Mallards speak about mental illness

#BellLet'sTalk big in hockey community

MOLINE, Ill. - Wednesday was Bell Let's Talk Day, an initiative based out of Canada to raise awareness and money for mental illness.

"It's really to raise awareness and kind of destroy the stigma and the walls of what mental health means to so many people," said Quad City Mallards defenseman Alex Gudbranson. 

The initiative takes on a new meaning on the ice. Hockey teams on all levels power the social media drive for #BellLet'sTalk. 

"During the game we're talking to the guys about being mentally tough," said Head Coach Phil Axtell. "Staying out when you're injured to block a shot, or play through a big hit. Mental illness is a big difference. I can get on them about being mentally tough. They need to know that the door is open if they need to talk about a mental illness."

Gudbranson says for him, it's about giving back. His brother battled cancer when he was a child, and he looks back on the people who helped his family through that time. He says if he can help someone else in need, he will. 

"Just because we are elite athletes doesn't mean you don't get touched by something that touches a lot of people and effects a lot of people," said Gudbranson. 

Hockey players, and professional athletes from all sports, share their thoughts on social media and ask for retweets. Each interaction using the hashtag #BellLet'sTalk gets five cents donated to mental health research. 

Coach Axtell said sports is a great outlet for a good cause. 

"Thousands upon thousands of fans gather to watch the athletes play and if we can spread the word to that man people at one event, that's huge."

The Canada-based company has raised over $80 million since it's inception in 2010. It hopes to reach the $100 million by 2020. 

"Let's keep hashtagging," said Axtell. 

"Bell Let's Talk," said Gudbranson. 

Find out more:

http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/


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