The Vancouver Canucks will host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night, but the game will mean more than just two points.
It will be the Canucks’ seventh annual ‘Hockey Talks’ night, which was started in 2013 to encourage conversation about mental health, share resource information, and reduce the stigma. In a video produced by the team, current forward and former Michigan Wolverine Tyler Motte shared his story about battling anxiety and depression.
“In sports and in hockey, there is this mindset that we have come to where it is all about being mentally strong and not showing weakness,” Motte said in the video. “My only input on that is it is not a weakness. For me, just accepting and saying out loud that I was diagnosed with depression and have a mental health issue, that was the first weight off my shoulders.”
Motte, who recorded 50 goals and 55 assists in three seasons at Michigan from 2014-16, said he was diagnosed during his second pro season, where he split time between the Columbus Blue Jackets and their American Hockey League affiliate, Cleveland Monsters.
The 2013 fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks said he barely had enough energy to get out of bed and go to the rink at times. But with encouragement from his girlfriend, he went to see a psychologist and received help.
“I have come to accept it is something I will deal with the rest of my life. But I still have the ability to influence it. There are many things I have noticed that have helped, from reading books, maintaining social experiences, still getting outside, still having dinner with friends, phone calls, things like that.”
Motte, who has three goals and two assists in 20 games this season, said he has had a strong support system around him.
“It is still its own animal in a sense,” he said. “You don’t exactly know. The hardest part for me was coming to accept it, because I didn’t want to be treated differently or looked at differently. But at the same time, I think having those around you know and understand can help you push through.”
This year, all seven Canadian NHL teams and eight U.S. teams will host a Hockey Talks mental health awareness night.
“It is not necessarily about telling my story, it is to help that one person or those handful of people that need to know they are not alone in it,” Motte said. “I love the group of guys we have here, so I am not worried about judgment or change of action from them towards me. With the support of individuals, teams, communities, I think the stigma is going to shrink drastically or turn into the opportunity where people can come to fully understand what some people go through.
“I think that is really the purpose of Hockey Talks. People are always going through things you may not know or understand, but there is always something you may be able to do it help.”
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