Addiction and Mental Health in Sports

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Addiction and Mental Health in Sports

The Shot You Don’t Want to Take

The increase in mental health struggles and addiction to prescription and illicit drugs in sports is of serious concern to the wellbeing of our athletes, organizations, and our communities. We hope to soften the resistance to having these conversations in the locker room, the training room, and any other space where athletes exist in relationship with colleagues and the larger organizations that support them.

We want to help trainers learn important skills to identify the warning signs and symptoms of deteriorating mental health and patterns of addictive behaviour while providing tools and examples of how to have necessary and difficult conversations with their athletes.

  • How to balance compassion and accountability when working with someone who’s struggling.
  • What underlies people’s incredible capacity to deceive themselves about their personal troubles and how can we relate to them with compassion?
  • How to navigate difficult conversations with our athletes and colleagues.
  • How to support people refusing to get help. 
  • How to bring ourselves more self-compassion. 


James Gardiner, MSc., CAT(C), CSCS

James is a Certified Athletic Therapist and holds a Masters Degree in Kinesiology and Health Science. 

He has held positions as a Head Athletic Trainer in the Blue Jays’ system, a Rehab Coordinator role at York University and various therapy, conditioning, and sports injury rehab roles, including working within the York University Athletic Therapy program and as a performance consultant with the University of the Bahamas.

His new venture, FIRSTAR Therapy sheds light on Performance Wellness, encompassing personal growth and coaching athletes in accessing more of themselves for what they do (sport, daily life, job satisfaction, etc).

Jens Casten

As a former, professional hockey player of over 21 years, Jens has mentored and coached athletes and has taken great pride in the positive influence and change he has brought to their lives. Through this process, Jens realized that his true passion was helping athletes overcome mental blocks that were hindering them from being the best they could be in both their personal and athletic lives.

Not only has Jens worked with all athletes, from beginner to NHL level, he has also enjoyed giving inspirational and motivational talks. Leaning on real-life stories and experiences, Jens is relatable, engaging and authentic which has all contributed to his great success.

As a Certified Sports Psychology Coach, Jens also works with athletes, in conjunction with therapists and doctors, who are struggling with mental health and addiction.

Mike Stroh, MA. Founder & Director Starts With Me

Mike has combined his personal and professional experience to create educational and training programs and practices rooted in experiential learning. The teachings are a combination of mindfulness, emotional intelligence, cognitive behavioural therapy, and neuroscience.

Mike is beginning his practice as a psychotherapist and is in the process of registering with the college of registered psychotherapists of Ontario.