Volleyball BC is pleased to announce that we have partnered with Buddy Check for Jesse (BCFJ) to help create mental health awareness in sport for our youth athletes. Buddy Check for Jesse is a Canadian Charity, founded by Dr. Stu Gershman in memory of his son, Jesse Short-Gershman, who died by suicide on October 29, 2014.
BCFJ is part of a broader strategy that we are developing to support mental health and wellbeing in volleyball as part of our commitment to safe sport. Consultation with our members showed that mental health factors such as life stress and fear of failure top the list of stressors affecting performance and that our youth members want more resources and support for mental health and well-being. Over the next year we will be introducing comprehensive tools and resources around mental health – and we are excited for BCFJ to kick this off.
Our Buddy Check initiative will take place throughout our 2023 club season. Volleyball BC and BCFJ will provide ongoing updates and support about the program as some teams will be doing events around tournaments and some individually during practice or local game times.
BCFJ came to being when Stu Gershman wanted to take action and create awareness surrounding mental health challenges after the death of his son. Additionally, Stu also wanted to encourage his athletes to check on (aka “Buddy Check”) one another and he wanted his players to understand that being a part of a team is so much more than how you play as an athlete on the court.
Stu believes that coaches are in a unique position to share this positive message and help raise awareness that mental health issues can affect anyone, at any time. The goal of Buddy Check for Jesse is to destigmatize mental health challenges and to empower and encourage youth and young adults to support one another.
Our hope is that by opening up the conversation about mental health, we begin to normalize checking in on one another and destigmatize mental health challenges, encourage teammates to support one another and become aware of potential mental health issues so they are more prepared to step in with support when they see a teammate, friend or family members struggling. Through programs like this we can create a culture of support for mental health and well-being in volleyball that encourages everyone to speak up and speak out.
If you’re interested in learning more about Buddy Check for Jesse, visit www.buddycheckforjesse.com.