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Not alone

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One former athlete’s struggle with mental health has become a rallying call for others – especially men – who feel they have to ‘suck it up.’

This news cycle is ever more difficult to process.

From a possible pandemic, to the Cullen Commission Inquiry into money laundering beginning with a frustratingly partisan blame game, to blockades and protests snarling the Canadian economy – it’s stress-inducing and anxiety-riddled for us all.

For some, it’s worse, compounded by an underlying undiagnosed mental health issue.

We are in a societal crisis for many citizens attempting to access mental health support — and those are the folks actually feeling it’s okay to ask for help.

Being okay at any time is an inexact science, for overwhelmed and already struggling men and women, it can all become too much. If you relate to this, know that you are not alone. A specific note to men reading this: you need not “suck it up”.

For a good chunk of my career, I had an all access pass for much of the major league sports world. I saw amazing triumphs and accolades, worship and camaraderie. Equally, I also saw vulnerabilities and struggles to meet the pressures to perform at the highest level.

Covering both men’s and women’s leagues it was clear: as in most walks of life, guys are not great at talking through their struggles.

Enter the inimitable Corey Hirsch.

The former Vancouver Canucks goalie, Olympic silver medalist and NHL analyst on Sportsnet Radio, Corey has added mental health and wellness advocate to his resume. He’s a force of nature on this topic, putting himself out there as a go-to for those who feel they have no one.

The back story on Hirschy actually started more than a decade after his diagnosis with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety — but boy did he ever hit the nail on the head when sharing his personal journey via an incredibly candid self-penned piece called DARK, DARK, DARK, DARK,DARK, DARK, DARK, DARK in The Players Tribune.

If you visit coreyhirsch.com you will find out even more about this cool cat. For starters, he’s driven. The goal for this netminder is to end the stigma associated with mental health 24/7/365. Corey comes at the topic in such a raw and honest way that should really be a part of school curriculums.

For a taste of what Corey Hirsch brings to the table on mental health issues, and what needs to be done to help men – specifically – deal, have a listen. We chatted on radio on Monday, and it stuck with me in a way that I just had to share here.

Today my hope is that just one man raised to “suck it up” hears Corey or reaches out to him to say, “I’m not good ….”

If that’s you, reach out – he means it.

If you know someone who you suspect is struggling, forward along this column in hopes that they might click a link and find some relief, even if just knowing they are not alone.

A couple of simple things we might do in rather chaotic times. At the very least, let’s try to lift each other up and truly listen.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

SWIM ON:

SWIM ON