NANAIMO – When the VIU Mariners basketball teams hit the court on Thursday night they'll be battling more than just the Douglas Royals.
They'll be joining the fight to end the stigma around mental illness with an event called Make Some Noise for Mental Health.
VIU men's basketball assistant coach Avneet Brar says the CCAA is asking all institutions under their umbrella across the country to get involved.
“They're encouraging people to come out and “Make Some Noise for Mental Health. It's partnered with the Bell Let's Talk campaign so they'll have some signs there and people are welcome to write on signs. It's a really good initiative just to get the conversation going around mental illness,” said Brar.
VIU Athletic Director Stephanie White adds there are resources available to students in the form of counselling and health services on campus.
There are also groups and events like the recent Frost 2019 Winter Festival put on by the VIU Students Union that can be a good place to start discussions and for students to reach out to each other.
Brar says the basketball program specifically spends time throughout the year talking about supports that are available on campus.
“The first point of contact for players is to initiate a conversation if they're comfortable chatting with a coach,” said Brar. “It's ok to talk about it, and then from there if it needs to be escalated there's support counselling we have on campus.”
*video from VIU Mariners facebook page
Make Some Noise for Mental Health activities begin at 4:30 p.m. on January 31 outside the student pub.
The basketball games will start at 6 p.m for the women, and the men will play at 8 p.m.
Both VIU teams are an impressive 11-1 heading into Thursday's action, but the men's matchup is the most interesting because Douglas is in second place in the PACWEST standings at 10-4, and both teams are nationally ranked.
The Mariners are fifth in the latest rankings and the Royals come in at eighth in the CCAA.
Coach Brar says the men's team beat Douglas back in November, and he's expecting a great atmosphere because of the Make Some Noise for Mental Health initiative and the fact that it's such an important game.
“It should be fun,” said Brar. “We've make some strides, and having watched them, they've made some strides as well so it should be a fun rematch.”
Douglas College will stay in Nanaimo for games on Friday afternoon as well.
The Friday games will be at 2 p.m. for the women and 4 p.m for the men.
Both Mariners clubs will then spend the rest of the season on the road until they wrap up the PACWEST schedule in the VIU gym on February 16 with island rivalry games against Camosun.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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