Buddy Check for Jesse Society is a Victoria, BC based grassroots Canadian charity established in 2018 that helps coaches bring mental health awareness to their players.
We have a large and established footprint in Greater Victoria and Vancouver Island, with an expanding presence across Canada. The charity was created to honor Jesse Short-Gershman who died by suicide on October 29, 2014 at the age of 22.
Support 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.
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.
Teams, and associations can use the color green (the color for mental health) in many inventive and impactful ways to demonstrate their awareness, camaraderie, and support of our message. Green hockey tape has been a mainstay of this message consistent with the program roots beginning with ice hockey.
Buddy Check for Jesse provides resources (cards, posters, coaches chat ideas) to help Coaches share this important message with their teams.
Jesse’s family hopes that through creating this program in his honour, it will lead to a healthier, more tolerant and compassionate outlook for our youth as they move forward in our communities.