It is the beginning of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s 66th annual Mental Health Week and they have a whole host of events to raise awareness for mental health.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very real risk for all first responders, whether they be Firefighters, RCMP, or EMTs. Treatment and diagnoses for mental illnesses improves every day, and PTSD is no exception. Whenever Wabasca Fire Department gets back from an incident, no matter what kind, we have a debriefing. This allows us to discuss anything we thought went well, anything we thought could be improved, and anything that bothered us. It’s a way for members to diffuse, and is the first step to maintaining mental well-being.
If further help is needed, there is a 1-800 number where the we can call to talk to someone anonymously, as well as a peer support program we can phone. The peer support program trains first responders to provide emotional and social support to other first responders. Speaking to someone who’s had similar experiences as you can make a world of difference when trying to recover from an incident. If the peer support person feels the first responder is at risk for developing PTSD, they will recommend the first responder make an appointment with a psychologist, and will follow up later to see how they’re doing.
The treatments for PTSD are as diverse as the people who are diagnosed with it. Medication, therapy and various therapeutic methods, and increasingly, service animals are all methods of treating PTSD. More often than not a person will be given a combination of treatments rather than just one, and the treatments may change depending on how the person responds to them. A support group (made up of friends, family, or a therapist, for example) will provide the emotional support a person needs to help them down the long road to recovery.
Wabasca is fortunate to have PeeKisKweTan “Let’s Talk” Society who will come and help facilitate our more difficult debriefings if need be, and who have a variety of other services available to the community.
If you would like more information on mental health, where you can find help, and how to get involved, please visit Canadian Mental Health Association for more information. If you would like more information on PTSD specifically, please click here.
If you are struggling with your mental health, or are in crisis, please reach out.
Alberta Mental Health Help Line: