In ice arenas across the state, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) and Butler Hospital are partnering to educate athletes, coaches, families and fans about the importance of good mental health. Part of the mission for the RIIL is to help promote healthy lifestyles. "A healthy mind is equally important to our athletes as is their physical wellness." says Tom Mezzanotte, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League.
All high school boys and girls interscholastic hockey teams will adorn their helmets with A Healthy Mind Facebook page stickers to show their awareness and support and to help decrease the stigma attached to mental health issues. Public service announcements will be made across the state before every game highlighting the importance of a healthy mind, the reason behind the stickers the RIIL players will be wearing.
"The mental health of our youth is an important topic that we need to help the community be more comfortable discussing. Through our partnership with the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, Butler is reaching out to young athletes, their coaches and their families to engage them in discussions and activities that will bring greater understanding and acceptance of mental illness as a common and treatable disease, "said Patricia Recupero, JD, MD, President and CEO of Butler Hospital.
The long-term effects of brain injuries resulting from a concussion in athletes are of great concern. Concussions can lead to depression, addiction, and memory problems.Traumatic brain injury is not the only factor adversely affecting the minds of athletes.Other brain related illnesses such as anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse are common among athletes. Brain injuries and the neurologic effect s they have on players' behavior have been noted in high school scholastic sports programs. The challenge for athletes is acknowledging the problem and seeking help.
The treatment of mental illness is a concern for all. To help raise awareness, the Cavanagh family established the Thomas G. Cavanagh Memorial Fund in memory of their son Tom Cavanagh, a former Toll Gate hockey star player and professional NHL player, who lost his battle with mental illness in January 2011. The Cavanagh family established the foundation to honor Tom's life and support athletes suffering with mental illness.
For more information on the Tom Cavanagh story please go to tgcfund.org, and be sure to "LIKE" Butler Hospital's A Healthy Mind Facebook page.