Indigenous coaches and athletes to benefit from new online mental health resources

Wednesday, April 12th, 2023 4:18pm


Image Caption

Ches Cardinal, the senior manager of programs and education for the Aboriginal Sport Circle,


“Every year, one in four people across the country experience a mental health experience. Due to the pandemic, it’s now one in three.” — Ches Cardinal
By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Thanks to a recently launched initiative, coaches and athletes from across the country now have some additional supports for those in need of mental health assistance.

The Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) has started a Mental Health and Sport Resource Hub on its website.

The goal of the hub is to advance national mental health literacy.

The hub, which is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, aims to reach communities across the country but especially targets Indigenous people and those living in remote areas.

Besides English and French, the content will be offered in seven other languages, including three Indigenous ones, Cree, Dene and Inuktitut.

The modules will also be available in Arabic, Punjabi, Chinese and Tagalog.

Ches Cardinal, the senior manager of programs and education for the Aboriginal Sport Circle, the governing body of Indigenous athletics in Canada, is pleased to see the addition of new mental health resources.

“Every year, one in four people across the country experience a mental health experience,” said Cardinal, a member of Maskwacis, which is made up of four First Nations in Alberta. “Due to the pandemic, it’s now one in three.”

Cardinal believes that coaches, especially those from Indigenous communities, can benefit from any information possible that will help them better deal with athletes in need of mental health assistance.

“Especially in Indigenous communities there’s a lot more hats that they wear,” Cardinal said. “They are teachers, counsellors and bus drivers at times.”

Cardinal said coaches often do not have the necessary know-how to deal with those experiencing a mental health crisis. Accessing resources on the topic can now better equip them.

Various coaching modules have long been offered through the CAC.

“This is the first time they have included a hub for mental resources,” Cardinal said. “It’s almost like it is an unknown territory for (the coaches).”

One of the e-learning modules available is titled “Mental Health in Sport.” It takes an estimated 45 to 60 minutes to complete.

In the course description it states the module “was developed to educate coaches about mental health to empower them to effectively play a role in supporting the well-being of the participants in their sport program, while also supporting their own mental health.”

Upon completion of the module, those who viewed it should be able to describe the foundations of mental health, recognize and understand their role in promoting coach and participant well-being and understand the importance of self-care.

Another module, which also takes an estimated 45 to 60 minutes to finish, is titled “Leading a Return to Sport Participation.”

Information available in this resource is aimed at those who are returning to sport participation following what was potentially a lengthy absence due to the pandemic.

“The process of restarting sport activities presents significant challenges for coaches and participants,” reads the module description. “After an extended period of restricted training and competition, participants may experience a variety of physical and psychological effects that will influence their return to sport participation.”

The module assists coaches to provide safe, return-to-sport activities.

Those who view this module will have a better ability to identify any physical and psychosocial effects athletes may be experiencing with their return to their physical activities. Coaches will also have a better understanding of how to lead and communicate with empathy.

Cardinal also likes the fact that athletes themselves can log onto the CAC website and access free mental health resources.

“All of the materials are geared towards youth 12 and above,” she said.

Cardinal also believes having material available in various languages, including Indigenous ones, is another plus.

“I think that’s going to empower them being in their language,” she said. “Even if they are not fluent speakers in their language, it’s going to be showing them appreciation on a national level in their Native tongue.”

The Mental Health Hub can be viewed at

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Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.