Facing off for change: How hockey players are moving the needle on Mental Health

Niqhil Velji, Caden Fanshaw / January 9, 2020

Myles Mattila met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his efforts in mental health advocacy.
(Twitter/ Myles Mattila)

@Myles_Mattila12

The Story of Myles Mattila

Myles Mattila said he was 14 years old when he reached out to his youth hockey coach after seeing something “off” about a  close friend and teammate. Mattila was a teenager at the time and admits he didn’t fully understand the concept of mental health. Despite his lack of understanding he said he kept himself hopeful that his coach would know what to do, and could help offer a support system for his teammate.

Mattila said how his coach dealt with the situation was a turning point in his life. He said his coach didn’t follow the necessary procedures involved to help his struggling teammate and eventually kicked the player off the team, despite what Mattila described as clear mental health struggles.

For Mattila, seeing a friend go through mental health challenges and not being offered the support he needed, inspired him to learn more about how to deal with mental health struggles.

At the time, the young hockey player wanted to help created more support systems for athletes but struggled to figure out a platform to make it happen.

That was until a story in the news gave him an idea.

Former Canucks forward Rick Rypien tragically took his own life in the summer of 2011. Rypien, was a player that dealt with depression throughout his hockey career. After the death of his teammate, Kevin Bieksa thought of a way to honour his friend’s legacy. Bieksa, created a website called MindCheck.ca, now Foundry, in hopes of offering support to those struggling with mental health.

Mattila, inspired by Bieksa, thought that was the perfect way to help athletes get the support necessary to cope with mental health issues. The idea came into reality with the creation of a website called MindRight.

When MindRight was being created Mattila was in the middle of his grade 12 year at a high school in Prince George.

A handful of years later, the website continues to grow, serving as a mental health wellness program designed to educate players, coaches, parents, and supporters.

“We want to encourage young people to be open and engage in peer to peer conversation. We want to support, connect, and build ties with young people using hockey as a medium. All while creating a movement with a brand that makes mental health relatable and accessible”

Myles MattilaMindRight Fouderhttps://

Mattila’s efforts with MindRight landed him the honour of being BC Hockey’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017.

In the weeks following, the word of Mattila’s hard work reached an all time high when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged him over social media. It didn’t stop there though, subsequently the PM flew Mattila to Ottawa for an in-person meeting the following year to discuss mental health initiatives.