I wouldn't normally post a blog like this but given the recent Bryce Salvador article at the players tribune website, remembering the suicides of Wade Belak and Rick Rypien, drug overdoses like Derek Boogard and the addiction problems of Theo Fleury, I wanted to share the following article. I have kept the original author anonymous as requested and changed some of the identifying information.
"I want to express my appreciation for everyone here at this mental facility. As a young adult, I went to my first NHL game. I can still remember sitting in the upper bowl watching and originally thinking it was nothing more than a bunch of grown men beating each other up. Then I noticed their skating, how they moved with such grace and beauty while managing to carry this little piece of vulcanized rubber down the ice. I noticed how they persevered while getting hit or hitting someone else while still staying upright on two thin metal blades with their heads on a swivel, looking for the next pass or that tiny window of opportunity to score. I was in complete awe of their work ethic, determination, dedication, and willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team. It isn't until actually experience something first hand that you discover the true beauty in it.
Our facility is my home ice rink. Just as every skater on a hockey team plays a vital role in contributing to the team's success, whether scoring a goal or saving a goal, every staff member here at the mental facility plays a vital role in changing someone's life or helping to prevent a life from ending. Our leadership team serves as our coaches and owners. They make tough choices based on what is best for the team. The surveyors, similar to referees and linesmen, make decisions that we don't always like or agree with, but their goal is to keep things in check and prevent the game from getting out of hand. The staff are our skaters. They play both ends of the ice and fight to make a difference while protecting everyone around them. The patients are our fans. We work for them to make their lives better.
The analogies between mental health and hockey extend further. Hockey, when compared to other sports, has the lowest salaries of the four major sports (yes I know there is irony in that statement given that they still make millions of dollars, yet their millions are lower than the other major sports) yet the Stanley Cup Championship is the hardest of the championships to win and requires the most sacrifice. The players often have to play multiple positions on the very same shift. I've even seen defensemen step in and play goal when the goalie gets caught out of position. The players take physical punishment every time they step on the ice. They don't sit out because they have a broken finger or took a stick to the face. They get a shot of cortisone or stitched up and go right back for more. Rich Peverly wanted to go back in after having a heart attack. Name another major sport where the players do that. The players do it because they love what they do and love their teammates. Does any of this sound familiar?
Mental health workers are probably the lowest paid workers in the medical field, yet they work in some of the toughest environments and with some of the most difficult patients. It is a specialized field and takes a great deal of patience, hard work and mental as well as physical energy to perform well day in and day out.
The staff here are my hockey team. I am grateful to have you as teammates and proud to stand with you and fight along side of you. We all take a beating, yet we all keep coming back for more because we want to make the lives of those we work with better in some way. Every staff member that steps onto the unit, regardless of position, plays a vital role in changing someone's life. My respect for what everyone does day in and day out grows daily. Thank you all for your contribution in making our team successful."
I, for one, concur with the author of this poignant message. I hope everyone in the mental health and addiction fields know how much their fight to improve the lives of others is appreciated. May they all help their clients win their own version of the Stanley Cup.
It's a great day for hockey