Spreading the word
Myles Mattila has turned concern for a teammate into a difference-making endeavour as a mental health advocate across British Columbia
Derek Jory
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April 25, 2017
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Myles Mattila and the Cariboo Cougars will be playing on a national stage during the upcoming TELUS Cup, and Mattila will be using that opportunity to support mental health initiatives and spread the message of hope.

A few years ago Mattila, who has been passionate about hockey for as long as the 18-year-old can remember, noticed a dramatic change in a close friend and teammate. After initially being told everything was okay, Mattila pressed on and eventually his friend opened up: he was in a rut, felt unhappy and couldn’t shake it.

That shook Mattila.

“It was tough seeing such a good friend go through that and not knowing what was wrong,” said Mattila, a Grade 12 student from Prince George. “He needed help and it was eye opening for me not knowing what to do. I realized he likely wasn’t alone in this situation and I vowed to figure out how to help him and anyone else struggling with mental health issues.”

He began volunteering at a local mental health office and participating in youth programs, and he’s now a mental health advocate for Mindcheck.ca, partners with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the driving force behind Mindright.info, a health wellness program designed to educate Cariboo Cougars players, coaches, parents, and supporters about their mental health and the health of others.

Not surprisingly, his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

In 2015, Mattila was the recipient of the YMCA Youth Initiative of the Year Award and was the first beneficiary of the Northern Health Community Health Star program. He was also a torchbearer at the Canada Winter Games, and was nominated for a Champions of Wellness Award.

His achievements on the ice, in the classroom, and within the community were recognized last year as well, as he won a Mac’s AAA Midget Tournament Scholarship and was nominated for the Young Male Volunteer of the Year Award in Kelowna.

As part of the TELUS Cup, Mattila will speak at the awards banquet on April 29. He’s excited to speak of life outside of hockey to reinforce how important mental health is to being healthy overall.

“I enjoy speaking to peers about these issues because it’s coming from someone who understands what they’re going through right now in their lives,” said Mattila. “There are pressures from school and sports and just growing up in general. That can become overwhelming and you need to know where to turn for help.

“I hope I can engage the players competing in the tournament and spread the message that you’re not alone in what you’re going through. Hopefully the coaches and GMs hear that and realize this is a big stage for their players and it’s important to have resources to help them.”

Mattila speaks highly of his latest endeavour, Mindright.info, thanking Cougars GM and head coach Trevor Sprague, and his wife Jessie, for helping design and launch the site, which the B.C. Major Midget League will soon take over and make a league initiative.

Sprague is amazed at not only the player, but also the person Mattila is.

“There’s no question when he was trying out for our hockey club that he was a guy who is going to wear a letter, just the way he portrays himself and his confidence is great,” said Sprague. “He has a lot on his plate and there’s never any excuses from him. That’s tremendous.”

“The guys joke that he’s the spokesperson for our team, always in front of cameras doing interviews. He’s well respected by his peers. He’s a good leader and a quality person to everyone in the room; his attention to detail in his community endeavours is excellent, plus he’s a straight-A student.”

All that without mentioning the 5-foot-10, 180-pound forward is a tenacious player with unmatched work ethic and a physical bite that will help the Cougars in their quest for the TELUS Cup.

Mattila understands the impact he can have as a role model and he’s clearly taking it seriously. That won’t stop when his minor hockey career finishes at season’s end.

Next fall he’ll begin his post-secondary education in Kelowna, pursuing a business degree in management with his sights set on one day becoming a lawyer, maybe.

“That stuff will all come together, I’ll figure it out, but I know for sure I’ll be promoting mental health and working closely with the Canadian Mental Health Association to raise awareness and help end the stigma associated with mental illness.”

As for the Cougars and their hopes of winning the TELUS Cup as the host team, Mattila is confident he and the boys will make some noise, thoughts echoed by Sprague.

“Our guys have the chance to win the whole thing and that’s what we’re going there for.”

For more information:

Lisa Dornan
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 / 403-510-7046 (mobile)
ldornan@hockeycanada.ca

 

Morgan Bell
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427 / 403-669-1261 (mobile)
mbell@hockeycanada.ca

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
emadziya@hockeycanada.ca

 

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