A Conversation about Wellness with Pierre-Cédric Labrie

On Wednesday, March 13th, former NHL player and current St. Lawrence men’s hockey coach Pierre-Cédric Labrie spoke with students about his experiences with wellness. The lunchtime talk, which took place in the auditorium, was conversational in style, and also included Social Worker and wellness professional Shirley Jobson, Lions hockey captain William Cantin-Bolduc, and the Manager of Student Activities at the college, Timmy Jones.

Timmy Jones, Shirley Jobson, Pierre-Cédric Labrie and William Cantin-Bolduc address students.

This event was held as part of the Men’s Wellness Campaign, which is currently underway. This was a chance for students to hear from men in the college community about wellness, and to learn about what resources are on offer at the college.

Ms. Jobson kicked off the session by speaking briefly about the stigma surrounding mental health. Men have high rates of mental illness, she shared, but only account for 20% of the use of mental health services. There are many causes underlying this discrepancy, including that men are afraid to feel judged by their peers.

Shirley Jobson (left) and Pierre-Cédric Labrie

Ms. Jobson appealed to the mostly male audience: if you notice someone is not well, say something to them. Try not judge, ridicule, or minimize what they’re experiencing. She identified a few common signs of distress in men, and advised students to focus on prevention, taking care of themselves before things get bad.

Pierre-Cédric Labrie shares his story.

Next, Mr. Labrie shared a personal story about a head injury he experienced when he was new to the NHL. After suffering in silence for weeks, thinking he was being tough, there came a breaking point. When he finally spoke with his coach, he found that the coach was receptive and supportive, and Mr. Labrie got the help he needed. The delay caused him to miss a third of the hockey season. This proved to be a poignant lesson: he would never again deny his own discomfort or suffering.

Men’s hockey captain William Cantin-Bolduc shared a story of his own about a dark period he experienced during high school. He was struggling to balance school, work, and hockey practice while also caring for a loved one. He consulted his coach and other support systems around him, and they helped him find financial aid and academic support. He learned that simply talking to someone about the difficulties you’re experiencing can make a big difference to your wellbeing.

William Cantin-Bolduc speaks about his experiences.

Things can fall apart in an instant, Mr. Labrie shared, and it can take a long time to build them back up. For this reason, it is important to be consistent when taking care of your wellbeing, and to surround yourself with those who make a positive difference in your life. Vulnerability does not make you weak, he stressed. It is a first brave step toward personal growth.

Thank you to those involved in this event for helping to raise awareness of the mental health challenges men face. The Men’s Wellness Campaign continues until late April, and we hope to see large numbers of students and staff get involved.