September 13, 2019

The Bristol Pitbulls will be supporting the mental health charity Mind throughout the 2019-20 National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) season.

Mind is a charity that is particularly close to the hearts of the Bristol Pitbulls after their player Janne Virtanen recently went public with his own battle with mental health on the Now We’re Talking Facebook page.

Having recently played for the Mind Mental Ice Hockey team at the UK Charity All Stars weekend, Janne bravely opened up about his long battle with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation and how it brought him to the brink of making a final, fatal decision. And how it was only a phone call to The Samaritans that pulled him back.

From the very first day that Janne walked into the Bristol dressing room ten years ago he has been universally its most popular member. The one player that everyone considered themselves lucky to have as a teammate and, more importantly, as a friend.

Therefore, Janne’s story is an important reminder of how mental health can create an alternative reality for someone to the one that everyone else sees them in. Why it is so important to create a culture where they feel that they can show us that world so that we can help them find their way out of it. To make them realise that however difficult a conversation it may be for either of us, it’s still one that we want to have with them.

That is why the Bristol Pitbulls have decided to highlight the work being done by Mind.

The team’s third jerseys have been designed to support Mind’s efforts to raise awareness and promote understanding of mental health. To help Mind provide their advice and support service for anyone experiencing a mental health problem, the jerseys will be available to fans through an own and loan scheme with all profits going to Mind.

The Pitbulls hope to officially unveil the jersey in their home game against Cardiff on October 5th. They will then wear the jersey in every warm up for the remainder of the season. In addition, they will wear the jersey for one game each season to spread awareness for Mind and their work for better mental health.

The jerseys will be a unique design in black, blue and white. On the back will be printed the name of the person owning and loaning the jersey, or any other name that they wish to honour.

The jerseys are being sold for £45. Thanks to Dunamis Sports, they are being supplied at cost price so that the club can maximise the amount being donated to Mind.

Anyone interested in owning and loaning one of these special jerseys so you can show your own support, please email Richie Hargreaves at richie@bristolicehockey.co.uk.

The team will also be doing collections for Mind throughout the season, including leaving buckets at the ticket desk where they encourage everyone to put their change. You can also donate through the JustGiving page at justgiving.com/fundraising/bristolpitbullsmind.

To read Janne Virtanen’s deeply personal story, please go to the Bristol Pitbulls website.