A game-changing wellness initiative focusing on the mental health of all those involved in tennis in Canada
Tennis Canada announced the launch of Mental Timeout, a game-changing wellness project focusing on the mental health of all those involved in tennis in Canada. Mental Timeout is a suite of initiatives to support Tennis Canada’s commitment to improving the wellbeing of tennis players of all ages and levels, and to ensuring a safe, healthy, and supportive environment for the future of the sport.
The project will take shape based on two commitments: a commitment that Tennis Canada makes as an institution towards the future of the sport, and a commitment that Tennis Canada seeks from everyone during tennis events in Canada.
“An increasing number of athletes of all ages have opened up about their struggles with anxiety and depression and how it can affect their performance,” said Michael Downey, President and CEO of Tennis Canada. “Tennis Canada’s acknowledgement of the pressures of competition through its Mental Timeout project aims to open up the narrative around mental health in our sport. This is a learning process for us as an organization, (and we do not have all the answers), but our purpose is clear: we are committed to creating a positive, safe and supportive environment in which all players across Canada can thrive.”
The Mental Timeout project will be brought to life on site at the 2022 National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Toronto and Montreal, taking place from August 5-14, and will launch with two key initiatives: Positive Court Pledge and Tennis Therapy.
POSITIVE COURT PLEDGE – A COMMITMENT BY ALL
National Bank Open ticket buyers, tournament staff, volunteers, media, and players, as well as those following on social media around the world, will be invited to sign The Positive Court Pledge – a written commitment to ensure a positive environment for all athletes performing in Canada, making them feel supported and uplifted. This pledge is a way to promote a safe environment, but also to break the taboo, and open a discussion, about the importance of mental health in sports. It is Tennis Canada’s intention to start the pledge at the National Bank Open, but for it to be extended to Canadian tennis events across all ages starting in 2023.
Fans will also have the chance to write “Positivity Postcards” to their favourite players, which will be collected by the tournament staff and distributed directly to the stars during the tournament.
TENNIS THERAPY – TENNIS HELPING TENNIS
The Tennis Therapy initiative will include a number of creative additions during the National Bank Open that aim to minimize the stress experienced by players: Meditation zones, a curated musical “Timeout Playlist” and 1:1 access to mental health experts.
Moreover, a panel discussion around mental health in tennis will take place in Toronto on August 10 and finally, family fun activities will be offered during 407 ETR Family Weekend and IGA Family Weekend in Toronto and Montreal on August 6-7, including yoga sessions.
BIANCA ANDREESCU – FIRST AMBASSADOR OF THE MENTAL TIMEOUT PROJECT
Speaking at a press conference to announce the project at Sobeys Stadium in Toronto, 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, ambassador for the Mental Timeout initiative, added: “I have been open about my own struggles with mental health and I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of this important project for Tennis Canada. Even though mental health is being talked about increasingly, I feel there is much more work we can do, and I can’t wait to bring my own ideas to the table to help destigmatize the struggles we have off court.”
A COMMITMENT FOR A LONG TERM STRATEGY
Tennis Canada pledges a commitment for future Mental Timeout initiatives to continue the focus on mental health and the betterment of the sport. The long-term vision of the project is perfectly aligned with Tennis Canada’s safe sport initiatives and our purpose: to improve the lives of Canadians through tennis.
As part of this strategy, Tennis Canada has engaged with several partners including Gameplan, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium, Sport Canada, Canadian Centre for Mental Health and Sport (CCMHS) and the University of Ottawa to provide services, support, education and develop skills to lead a balanced life. In addition, Tennis Canada will work with our partners and experts in the field to help design a long-term mental health strategy for our competitive players and support this strategy with the required resources.
“Mental Health and the well being of our athletes, coaches and families are paramount to help develop world class athletes and people that are well balanced, confident and have the skills to thrive during their careers and life after tennis. We are very committed to this journey, and we are very grateful to have committed and skilled professionals to include the Gameplan, the COC, the CPC, Own the Podium, Sport Canada, CCMHS and the University of Ottawa to help guide us along this very important pillar of athlete support, said Hatem McDadi, Senior Vice president, High Performance Development.”