Stick It To Stigma games return for the 2022-2023 season as the UNH Women’s Club Hockey team takes on Bentley University’s Women’s Club Hockey team on Saturday, December 3, 2022. These games help promote youth suicide prevention in the Granite State by encouraging players to support one another’s mental health, raise awareness about the mental health challenges youth and young adults face, and reduce the stigma associated with discussing and seeking help for mental health concerns.
Players recognize the value of supporting mental health awareness, both for themselves and their teammates: Lauren, goaltender for the UNH Women’s Club Hockey team, noted that, “as a goaltender, I have struggled with my own mental health throughout my career due to the pressure and anxiety and have seen many of my teammates endure the same. Mental health is an ‘invisible disease‘ that doesn’t just heal or go away and can affect your relationships with others as well as your own self image. Groups like Connor’s Climb help to begin the difficult conversations surrounding mental health and suicide prevention as well as work towards eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health in hockey.”
Lauren is not alone; her teammate, Tess, also highlights the importance of reducing stigma and notes that mental health challenges can often be overlooked: “Supporting mental health organizations like Connor’s Climb is so important in helping end the stigma that surrounds mental health and suicide. These mental health organizations aid in helping the community know the signs of at-risk mental health in their loved ones. Mental health means to me the exact same as physical health; [it is] imperative to one’s overall well-being. Unfortunately, it is oftentimes overlooked.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-14, and is the third leading cause of death for young people overall. In 2019, more youth and young adults aged 10-24 visited the emergency department (ED) due to self-harm incidents than individuals in any other age group, with girls and young women having higher risk than boys and young men. In fact, the rate of girls/young women visiting the ED due to self harming behaviors has doubled since 2001. Additional data from the CDC highlight the mental health challenges youth and young adults faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, including heightened depression and anxiety, social isolation, and hopelessness, and the most recent information available indicates that these challenges have persisted even after the majority of pandemic-related restrictions were relaxed.
While statistics such as these seem bleak, there is definitely hope for improving mental healthcare and suicide prevention among youth. The CDC notes that connectedness to schools, friends, and communities, can play a major role in protecting against negative mental health outcomes, and Connor’s Climb Foundation is honored to work with teams throughout New Hampshire to foster such connectedness through the Stick It To Stigma games. We hope you can join us for our first game of the season, and we look forward to promoting mental health awareness and youth suicide prevention during all the games that follow! See you on the ice!