By Tori Taylor, September 23 2019 —
I Got Mind is an organization of passionate athletes looking to shed light on mental health issues within the sports community. The goal on their cross-Canada tours is to raise awareness and break down the social stigma that surrounds mental health in athletes.
Earlier this month, Calgary had an educational press conference at the Wild Rose Pub that discussed the upcoming tour dates for Western Canada. There was a heavy focus on the concerning statistics relating to elevated stress and anxiety in athletes. Of the 2000 plus athletes that have attended I Got Mind events since 2018, 86 per cent have reported variated stress levels — anxiety is at 62 per cent, depression is at 46 per cent and suicidal thoughts at 30 per cent.
Teamed up with Hull Services, I Got Mind has used this data to create an online learning platform for athletes, parents and teachers. The platform strives to provide support and education on coping skills for better mental health.
“These statistics are staggering,” says I Got Mind President Bob Wilkie in an interview with the Calgary Sun. “Our events have been overwhelming in the honesty about the issues of athletes, parents and coaches are struggling with.”
Wilkie is a Calgarian and former NHL player. He played 11 pro hockey seasons — 18 games between the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers. He is now passionately working to teach people about the signs of depression, anxiety, sleep issues, self-loathing, suicidal thoughts, stress and addiction and how to manage them within the sports community.
“These are all issues that are typically attached to soldiers and major trauma,” said Wilkie. “I am finding there are similar issues with all sports. And I have found PTSD or a form of PTSD to be a trending mental issue.”
Sofia Abbiati, marketing director of I Got Mind Inc., was available to comment on the progress being made to raise mental health awareness as this year’s tour commences.
“I Got Mind has taken the feedback from previous events and used it to really fine-tune the upcoming shows accordingly,” Abbiati said. “The statistics we have gathered in the past show high stress and anxiety levels in young athletes and this is something we want to change.”
The additional support of Maeghan Cotterill, an 11-time gold medalist in Women’s Karate and Kickboxing, was announced at the press release on Sept 10. She owns a martial arts studio called 5 Elements Martial Arts, and will now be readily involved in advocating for I Got Mind.
“This year, we are expanding by adding athletes to the team who will serve as the faces of I Got Mind in their perspective sports,” Abbiati said.
Sarah Wenninger, captain of Mount Royal University’s women’s hockey team, and Josh Symons, a former CFL player, have also been brought aboard.
“We are thrilled to have more retired athletes join our team to support the sporting
community,” said Bob Wilkie, at the press release. “They have so much to add and share with the groups.”
As the tour moves forward, it is exciting to watch passionate professionals reach out to those in all athletic communities as a safe and supportive outlet for vulnerable — often overlooked or squashed down — feelings. For anyone interested in attending an event or connecting with these professionals, information can be found at www.igotmind.ca.