Bang your pots for mental health

Photo by Noor Ibrahim

Chris Cameron, Lindsay Panchan, and Scott Dennis from the DC Athletics department show their preparation for the Make Some Noise for Mental Health event.

There was something louder than cheer at the Durham Lords men and women’s volleyball game against the Georgian Grizzlies.

On Jan. 26, spectators filed into the bleachers with some unexpected objects in hand – pots and pans. The banging from the pans could be heard from outside the gym.

But this wasn’t just for fun. The commotion was part of the Make Some Noise for Mental Health campaign started three years ago by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s athletic team, the Trojans. The campaign made its way to Durham College only one day after Bell Let’s Talk day. It is also backed by the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).

The point of the campaign is to create as much noise as much possible during athletic events to spread the word about mental health issues and create conversation.  While anything from air horns to bells to thunder sticks is acceptable, the theme of this game came from the kitchen.

Emily Coons smiles as she bangs her pot during the Durham Lords volleyball game against the Georgian Grizzlies.
Emily Coons smiles as she bangs her pot during the Durham Lords volleyball game against the Georgian Grizzlies.

“What better way to make some noise than with pots and pans?” said Scott Dennis, Durham College’s Sports Information and Marketing Officer. “They’re pretty loud.”

Dennis and Chris Cameron, special events coordinator with DC’s athletics department, decided pots and pans were a fit when they saw it at another school.

This is the campaign’s first year at Durham. Even though it targets athletes, Dennis said many students struggle with mental health.

“All students have to juggle things with part-time jobs, with their studies, and families get involved as well,” said Dennis. “Being a student is tough. So it’s important to talk to people if they have problems.”

Lords soccer player Daniel Kaminski said mental health issues affect athletes in a big way.

“A lot of athletes won’t come out as having a mental disability or having something wrong with them,” he said. “If they have depression or something, it’s hard to come out especially when you’re an athlete because you don’t want to be taking time away from your [sport.]”

One in five Canadians suffer from mental health issues, according to Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. According to a University of Toronto survey of 113 student-athletes, 18 per cent of the athletes suffered from depression while 17 per cent had anxiety. Kaminski says mental health issues with athletes is understandable.

“Playing sports, practicing, games – that takes you away from your everyday life,” he said.

Kaminski was a spectator at the game. His noisemaker of choice was an air horn. He said the game was effective in creating conversation.

“It helps the athletes see that they can come out and have more courage because people are there to support, listen, and be there for them,” said Kaminski.

Dennis agrees.

“It gets people talking about mental illness. That’s the whole point. So that someone who is suffering from that is not alone and is not afraid to come out with it,” he said.

The campaign was one of the many events, such as beach day, recently featured at the Lords games to boost spectator numbers. However, according to Dennis, this event was much more important than the others.  He hoped spectators walked away with more than just entertainment, but with information and a desire to research mental health.

The female Lords were undefeated that night while the men’s team couldn’t knock off the Grizzlies with a final score of 2-3.