SEPTEMBER 20, 2022 – The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League is pleased to announce a partnership with Heroic Minds to offer mental health support to players and team officials.
Beginning today, all GOJHL athletes and staff will have access to the Heroic Minds platform, developed by 5-yar OHL defenceman and former captain of the Kitchener Rangers, Ben Fanelli. More specifically, they will have access to exercises that can influence how they feel, question how they think and arm them with tools for life.
The aim of the Heroic Minds platform is to arm athletes with tools for life that they otherwise don’t have access to, don’t see on their social media feeds or simply aren’t top of mind. “This includes psychoeducation, philosophy, psychology, leadership skills, communication skills, relationship skills and much more. These exercises are delivered via recordings like a podcast, reflection exercises, powerful daily quotes and more. Every exercise is under five minutes in length and is incentivized. When users interact with the platform they earn ‘Hero Tokens’ which they can use to unlock gift cards or plant trees,” says platform creator Mr. Fanelli. “One of the most important features in the platform is the ability to share exercises with other users, inspiring a culture of support, compassion, and empathy,” he adds.
The league has suffered the tragic loss of two players in the past 15 months. Stratford Warrior Carter Schoonderwoerd took his life in 2021 and Ayr Centennials Captain Eli Palfreyman recently passed away as the result of a health incident between periods of an exhibition game. “No one is immune to mental illness and these heartbreaking events have led to the league’s Governors and Presidents taking charge by committing resources for players, coaches, management, and others involved with all of our teams. Whether someone is experiencing mental health issues themselves, having a hard time dealing with other tragedies, or simply want to further their education various, and sometimes difficult topics, we want services to be available at their fingertips,” says GOJHL Commissioner Brent Garbutt.
Fanelli says that on his podcast he has chatted with over 100 people that had been through incredible amounts of adversity in their lives including disease, amputation, immense pressure and loss, suicide and more. “I noticed that the way these individuals overcame their challenges was different than our current approach to mental health. The existing methodology constitutes taking action once someone is already anxious or depressed. Thus, we focus on the symptoms being anxiety and depression and direct people to take time off, meditate for 5 minutes or attend a workshop. We are not looking upstream to uncover the cause or what tools, ideas, and concepts could prevent things. Ultimately, we are leading people away from the experiences, self-reflections and ideas that can truly improve how they feel, think, and perform.”
About Heroic Minds
Heroic Minds was born in 2018 when Kitchener Ranger (OHL) Alumni Ben Fanelli started the Heroic Minds Podcast and began his Master of Counselling and Psychology. Heroic Minds takes a proactive approach to mental well-being by offering psychoeducation, life skills and tools in a pragmatic, applicable and enjoyable way.
About the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL)
The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League is a Canadian junior ice hockey league based in Southern Ontario, Canada. The league is sanctioned by the Ontario Hockey Association, Ontario Hockey Federation, and Hockey Canada.