The Pandas Hockey program at the University of Alberta has been a community leader for many years. Though Pandas hockey players volunteer their time in multiple ways throughout the season, one of the most visible activities is the Pandas hockey annual charity games. Each season, the Pandas select a cause the team feels is important and a game is hosted by the team where fundraising and awareness events take place.
Over the seasons, the Pandas have selected a variety of charitable causes. These include ovarian cancer, the Zebra Child Protection Center, the Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI), and raising awareness of Lyme disease. This year the Pandas will try a new take on the theme of mental health and wellness. They have chosen to support the Alberta Mental Health Foundation.
In Edmonton, the Alberta Mental Health Foundation is a vital provider of services to those with mental illness, their families and friends, and those struggling with challenges such as low income and abuse. They provide multiple services and supports.
Some of the most well know Alberta Mental Health Foundation supported programs are All in for Youth — a series of wrap around supports for children and youth living in poverty. They also support Access Open Minds (helping youth aged 11 to 25 years old understand how access to appropriate mental health supports can transform their lives), the Incredible Years (which helps parents struggling with substance abuse), and work for Alberta Health Services — You Adult Services and Alberta Hospital Edmonton — the largest psychiatric hospital in Alberta. Finally, they have also been active in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation which is being used to treat depression in some.
More information about the programs and services supported can be found at https://mentalhealthfoundation.ca/your-impact/programs-initiatives/
Mental health has been a cause which has been brought strongly into the public awareness through campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk. Part of the reason mental health has received so much attention is that it touches everyone. Every single person has mental health and approximately 20% of Canadians will deal with a mental illness at some point during their lives. With such far reaching effects, ignoring mental health has become impossible.
The Pandas are working to raise funds and awareness to combat two of the most isolating factors in dealing with mental health concerns: access to services and stigma. And for that reason this game is especially important. It is a reminder that those who may feel like no one cares have places to turn. It can be an opportunity to experience the support and acceptance of a greater community which is unspeakably important to those who feel like no one cares or understands.
There are countless stories that people are hearing more and more as the world becomes more accepting of the journeys that individuals travel towards mental health. A lot of these stories feature acceptance as huge factor in recovery. The Pandas hosted a Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Awareness Game to help raise awareness and end the stigma on January 26, 2018. This second game gives them another chance to raise awareness, end stigma, and fundraise.
The Pandas play the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on February 10, 2018 at 2pm at Clare Drake Arena. Fundraising events will include a raffle, jersey auction, 50/50, and chuck-a- puck.