Saskatchewan. students were introduced to the Roughrider-centered mental health initiative

The Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation and the provincial government are launching a joint mental health initiative to provide students with a mental health resource manual and wellness talks with football players.

The Game Changers Playbook contains mental health resources for educators and staff to help young people manage their mental well-being.

« These programs weren’t even on the radar [when I was in school] it was something that wasn’t normal to talk about, » veteran Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive lineman and foundation ambassador Dan Clark said Thursday at Sacred Heart Community School in Regina, Sask.

Clark suggested that the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people, including the shift to and from online education, has shown students’ resilience. He said being able to help them with mental well-being was rewarding for him.

The manual includes lessons from different youth mental wellness organizations like Kids Help Phone and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Roughriders wide receiver Mitchell Picton speaks to a class at Sacred Heart Community School in Regina, Sask. (Radio Canada)

The playbook is half of the sanity initiative. About six players, like Clark, will also visit classrooms across the province during the offseason to discuss mental wellness with students as part of the Win with Wellness presentation series.

Players will discuss stress management strategies like box breathing or how to recognize good stress from bad stress. Schools will be able to book these presentations in the coming months, according to a press release from the Roughrider Foundation.

« For these kids, it will be huge to hear such an important message from people they already give so much credibility to, » said Saskatchewan Education Minister Dustin Duncan.

He said the province has made student mental health a priority as part of its interim education plan and echoed Clark’s comments that mental wellness was much more front and center than when he was younger.

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