Local mental health education is getting a big boost thanks to the Vernon Doctors Hockey Tournament Society (VDTHS).
Proceeds of $2,500 from the 34th annual tournament held in early March were donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Vernon & District Branch to support educational programming.
“We are grateful for the generous support from the organizers and participants of the Vernon Doctors Hockey Tournament,” said Julia Payson, Executive Director for Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon & District Branch.
“Education is such an important part of what we offer for people facing mental health challenges. From early intervention and prevention to those with severe mental health issues, we want our community to know that there is hope and there is help.”
The donation is in memory of UBC medical student Laura Taylor who died by suicide in 2016. Taylor was a gifted athlete who had played in the tournament in previous years. She had also been a member of the UBC Women’s Thunderbird Hockey Team and played varsity hockey with the University of Saskatchewan Women’s Huskies Hockey Team in her undergrad years.
Taylor was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and struggled with the associated stigma.
“Sadly, stigma prevents too many people from getting the help they need. We honour Laura’s memory when we improve the dialogue about mental health in our community, and by providing education and support to individuals with mental health challenges,” said Payson.
This month, CMHA Vernon & District is facilitating Suicide Loss Support Groups for those dealing with the loss of a loved one due to suicide. The eight-week sessions are free of charge and facilitator-led with a support person available for one-on-one assistance. For more information or to register, please call 250.542.3114 ext. 232.
The Vernon Doctors Hockey Tournament is the largest physicians’ hockey tournament in Western Canada. Started by Dr. William Cawkell, the tournament has grown over the years featuring more than 300 physicians on 24 teams playing 48 games throughout the North Okanagan.