Former NHL goaltender and mental health speaker Clint Malarchuk spoke at Minnesota State University’s event in early February of this year. He shared his story and was a beacon of hope for student-athletes dealing with mental health issues.
Malarchuk, who has battled depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, said that even those who are successful in their careers and are expected to be strong can still suffer from mental illnesses or emotional distress, and “it’s OK to not be OK.”
The event, sponsored by MSU’s Student Events Team, Center for Rural Behavioral Health, and Athletic Department, strives to encourage those struggling with mental health to talk about it.
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Malarchuk suffered a near-fatal accident while tending goal for the Buffalo Sabres on March 22, 1989, where his jugular was sliced by a skate blade. He lost 1.5 liters of blood, and his six-inch wound required 300 stitches. Although he survived and returned to the ice in just 10 days, Malarchuk’s mental health took a turn for the worse.
Speaking openly about mental health was less common back then, so Malarchuk chose not to, noting that he is also a cowboy, so he’s “supposed to be tough.” After 20 years of struggling and suffering in silence, Malarchuk attempted to take his own life then realized he needed to seek help.
Malarchuk’s message as a mental health speaker is the same as Kevin Buisman, director of athletics at MSU, who wants to show the students that it’s OK to not be OK and encourage them to reach out to somebody for help. Thad Shunkwiler, director of the Center for Rural Behavioral Health at MSU, teamed up with Buisman to bring Malarchuk to campus to spread the message. Malarchuk’s story is as inspiring as a Disney fairytale, according to Shunkwiler, and he wants people to know that they’re not alone and that it’s essential to talk about these things.
“That’s a message I strongly want to get across,” Malarchuk said. “Do not go that far down that rabbit hole before asking for help. It’s OK to talk about it, to get help. Talk to a friend, talk to a counselor, talk to a therapist, talk to a coach, talk to your parents. Get the help you need to get well.”
Over 600 people attended the event at the Centennial Student Union ballroom. Dylan Engel, a fifth-year photography student and big hockey fan said that it’s not every day that someone as inspiring as Malarchuk comes to speak. However, he added that it’s beneficial for everyone to hear about mental health; there’s so much to take away from someone who’s been through so much.
To book Clint Malarchuk or another sports star that has become a mental health speaker, reach out to Athlete Speakers today! Our agents can align you with the perfect choice based on your budget and other factors. Fill out our Online Booking Request Form or call 1-800-916-6008 to start the process.