Sooke Minor Hockey is supporting mental health by participating in ‘Buddy Check for Jesse’, a program created in memory of Jesse Short-Gershman. Buddy Check for Jesse was developed for Coaches to deliver to their teams. It began with Jesse’s dad, Dr. Stu Gershman, wanting to help his other two boys feel supported and to make their teammates know how important mental health is.
Jesse Anders Short-Gershman was born on July 22, 1992 in Victoria, British Columbia. Jesse was a “gifted child” and was highly accomplished academically throughout his life. By the age of 20 he was working in Silicon Valley at Google. He was an excellent golfer and swimmer and cared deeply about his family and the environment.
Jesse had another side to him. He was out of balance emotionally. Having a high IQ does not spare you from mental health challenges nor does it grant you an automatic pass to a happy and peaceful life.
He fought against his obsessive-compulsive disorder, was bullied in elementary and middle school for being a “brainiac” and, as a young adult, tried hard to fit in at a large company.
He was starting to make some progress and gain insight towards recovery and eventually his challenges overwhelmed him and on October 29th, 2014, at the age of 22, Jesse took his own life. Jesse left behind three siblings, and a family who loved and accepted him for who he was.
Stu believes that Coaches are in a unique position to share a message to help raise awareness about mental health issues in their youth participants. Coaches are respected by their players and the players can benefit knowing that their coaches care about them. The idea is to create an environment where teammates support one another and are more aware of potential mental health issues so they are prepared to step in with support when they see a teammate, friend or family member struggling.
Stu’s goal is to destigmatize mental health challenges and to empower and encourage youth and young adults to support one another. He believes that it is our youth that can help change the future and promote kindness, compassion, and tolerance in our communities. Hopefully this will allow more individuals to come forward and receive the help that exists. Only then will our poor statistics and stigmatization of mental health challenges/illnesses be impacted in a meaningful way
Sooke Minor Hockey will be participating in Buddy Check for Jesse with teams chats with their Coaches and featuring all of our teams on social media the week of February 5th.