The Washington Capitals are partnering with MedStar Health to promote Hockey Talks, to raise awareness and help end the stigma around mental health.

The Hockey Talks mental health awareness initiative began in 2013, following the tragic passing of Canucks player Rick Rypien in 2011. Rick was a hockey hero, a son, a brother, a teammate, and a friend. Rick's wish was to support others and help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness by being a spokesperson for this issue. The Capitals are among 17 National Hockey League teams hosting Hockey Talks this season.

January 13 vs. NYR

Hockey Talks

presented by MedStar Health

The Washington Capitals are partnering with MedStar Health to promote Hockey Talks, with the goal of raising awareness and ending the stigma around mental health.

MSE Foundation 50/50 Raffle Beneficiary: Shoulder Check

Shoulder Check is an #HT40 initiative inspiring young men and women to commit to supporting one another through small acts that have a big impact. To show them that ‘being there’ is as simple as a hand on a shoulder. 

From signing the blue shoulder and tagging your friends online, to hosting your own Shoulder Check, there are plenty of ways to join the movement and make kindness a contact sport.

Join the Conversation

Download and print out your own Hockey Talks sign and join the conversation online using the hashtag #HockeyTalks.

2023 Hockey Talks

The Capitals hosted Hockey Talks presented by MedStar Health on Thursday, January 26th, 2023 vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital One Arena. The evening included in-game PSAs about the importance of managing your mental health, feature stories, and more. In collaboration with Morgan's Message, an organization focused on student-athletes and mental health, the Capitals also hosted a pregame mental wellness panel for student-athletes affiliated with Morgan's Message.

Partners & Resources

PLEASE NOTE: A licensed professional is your best resource for helping you to cope with overwhelming anxiety. While preventing stress and anxiety from becoming overwhelming is ideal, it's also helpful and often times necessary to have the support of others. Don't hesitate to ask for help.

Warning Signs

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable "highs" or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and having low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing "aches and pains")
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

Symptoms of substance use disorder may include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Using substances under dangerous conditions
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Loss of control over use of substances
  • Developing a high tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
  • Feeling like you need a drug to be able to function


  • 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental illness
  • 1 in 20 US adults experience serious mental illness
  • 17% of youth (6-17 years) experience a mental health disorder
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 
  • People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population. People with serious mental illness are nearly twice as likely to develop these conditions.
  • 32.1% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2020 (17 million individuals)
  • The rate of unemployment is higher among U.S. adults who have mental illness (6.4%) compared to those who do not (5.1%)
  • High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers
  • Students aged 6-17 with mental, emotional or behavioral concerns are 3x more likely to repeat a grade.

Take Action

  • Talk to someone (friend, family member, professional). Do not keep this to yourself.
  • Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor or state/country mental health authority for more resources
  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately
  • For substance abuse, support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are a great source of not only support, but also specialist referrals and recovery tips

Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness

A Discussion on Mental Health

Dr. Aimee Kimball, Capitals Senior Director of Team and Organizational Development, discusses mental wellness during the pandemic as pertains to athletes, parents and coaches.

  1. Dr. Kimball also served as the Mental Performance Coach for the USA Hockey Women's National Team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, sheds light on how athletes' mentally prepare for the biggest stages.

Kimball on Working with Players

Kimball on Working with Coaches

Kimball on Working with Parents

Kimball on Olympic Preparation