You might know Kevin Bieksa as the physical NHL defenseman who skated with the Vancouver Canucks for over 10 seasons, spent another few years with the Anaheim Ducks, and now as a Hockey Night in Canada studio analyst.
What you might not know is that Kevin is very active as a mental health speaker and advocate. Which makes this busy father of two the perfect fit to be one of the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation’s newest men’s health Champions. We had a chance to sit down with Kevin to learn a bit more about him.
Q: Why is men’s health important to you?
A: I’ve always been committed to my health and the health of my family. Growing up, I understood that I needed to take care of both my physical and mental health to be at my best. Staying active and training hard were keys to my professional development. I’m close with my family, including my two brothers, and their health is very important to me.
Q: What can viewers expect from your upcoming event, “How to Start a Conversation About Mental Health?” set to premiere on June 2, 2021?
A: I’ve been honest and open about my journey with friends and family and the challenges that mental health has had on our lives. People know how close I was with Rick Rypien as teammates and how much we tried to help him with his struggles.
In this upcoming event, I’ll be speaking about my passion for helping others who may be facing similar challenges. I want people to know that asking for help is a sign of strength. It’s the right thing to do, and there are people who want to help.
Q: The Canucks were a progressive organization when you played for them. Can you tell us a bit about the group dynamics and the importance of positive culture?
A: We had a special group of players, coaches, and staff during my time with the Canucks. In many ways, it feels like our core group grew up together. A number of us got married and started families during the time we played together.
We pushed each other to be the best we could be and were almost successful in our ultimate goal. We had a lot of individual and team successes during those ten years. It was really a fun group to be part of.
Q: Is it true you went skating for the first time on a lake in Ontario when you were only 18 months old? When did you know that hockey was something you were going to pursue as a career?
A: Yes. Growing up in a hockey-mad province and in Canada with two brothers, hockey was our life. I felt fortunate to get an education and play hockey at the same time. I believed it would set me up for success.
I was also very fortunate to make a living doing something I loved to do as a kid. Playing the game I love and doing it in Canada, where it matters so much to people, was a great experience.
Q: When it comes to your health, what is a common struggle you face and what are some ways you work through it?
A: Finding balance. I have a lot on the go right now. I have a wife and two kids. I operate a high-performance hockey academy, and I work with Hockey Night in Canada. Ensuring I find time for everyone, including myself, is the key.
That’s why physical activity is so important. Every day I prioritize exercise because it helps me with all of the other aspects of my life. We live in California, and the great weather helps us get outside and be active as much as possible.
Following Rick’s passing, Kevin frequently spoke out in support of Foundry. This website provides BC teens and young adults with a reliable, easy-to-use, and interactive place to check out how they’re feeling and connect with support early and quickly. Foundry content includes self-check quizzes, information pages, resources, and links. It can be found here: foundrybc.ca.
You can also learn more about Kevin’s high-performance West Coast Academy in Irvine, CA that helps kids reach their highest potential in hockey and in life.
Watch On-Demand: How to Start A Conversation About Mental Health with Kevin Bieksa
What do you do when someone you care about confides in you about their stress and anxieties?
In this 45-minute virtual speaker series, Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy leads the conversation as former NHL defenseman and current Hockey Night in Canada studio analyst Kevin Bieksa discusses his close relationship with Rick Rypien during his struggles with mental health.
Joined by Anxiety Canada Board Director and Registered Psychologist Dr. Melanie Badali, we dive into how to start a conversation about mental health and support someone who confides in you about their mental health challenges.
Check out all of the Men’s Health Month Virtual Events.
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