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What the Indy Fuel is doing to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health

The Indy Fuel playing at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Indy Fuel announced on Tuesday that it will host Hockey Talks night on Friday, Dec. 29, to help "break the stigma surrounding mental health."(Provided Photo/Indy Fuel)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indy Fuel announced on Tuesday that it will host Hockey Talks night on Friday, Dec. 29, to help “break the stigma surrounding mental health.”

The event, in collaboration with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, “will be the first time an ECHL team will partner with the initiative, started by the Vancouver Canucks, and the first to host a night dedicated to the cause,” according to a press release from the team.

“The Fuel are committed to helping make Indianapolis and the hockey community a more welcoming place by advocating for the mental health of our players, staff and fans alike as well as prioritizing mental health care,” Fuel owner and chairman Jim Hallett said in the release. “We are proud to partner with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to promote mental health initiatives as we host our ‘Hockey Talks’ night.”

Throughout the game that night, the team says “there will be in-game messaging and social media content sharing mental health facts and resources as well as education and tools for those that may be struggling. Fans can listen to player PSAs and visit a mental health and wellness resource table, which will be set up for fans to learn more about local organizations that are here to help.”

“We are focused on the whole health needs of individuals, families and communities as we join together with our community partners to encourage conversations about mental health,” Dr. Kimberly Roop, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Medicaid President in Indiana, said in the press release.

“The importance of emotional well-being continues to be at the forefront, as we continue to raise mental health awareness, provide education and training tools and offer community assistance with timely information and services. Our clinical experts are excited to work together with the Indy Fuel throughout the season to coordinate player visits to community-based organizations and schools across Indiana to learn more about mental health stigma and mental health conditions – and how to talk about them.”

The Fuel said that Hockey Talks night will not be the only time it will be working to break the stigma surrounding mental health. The organization said it is committed to “bringing attention to the unknown struggles of mental health year-round.”

The following is more information on the ‘Hockey Talks’ initiative from the press release:

The Hockey Talks mental health awareness initiative began ten years ago in 2013, following the tragic passing of Canucks player Rick Rypien in 2011.  Rick was a hockey hero, a son, a brother, a teammate, and a friend. Rick’s wish was to support others and help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness by being a spokesperson for this issue. To learn more about the Hockey Talks initiative click here. The Indy Fuel aims to bring positive change with their Hockey Talk.

The Fuel begin the 2023-24 regular season on Oct. 20 against the Fort Wayne Komets at 7 p.m. EDT.