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September is suicide awareness month and September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. It is important to commemorate such a time because that is how we bring attention to a serious issue. In 2020, 184 people completed suicide in Saskatchewan, 41 of them being between the ages of 20 and 29 years old. And it would not be a stretch to realize a great number of those 184 would be first responders dealing with the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.




It is difficult for those in positions of authority to admit they are having difficulty with their mental health. Especially since having such issues known can have a negative affect on their career even though knowledge about such issues could enable them to be more effective in how they accomplish their duties. Once a frontline protector or first responder is able to once again provide focus on their duties, they are then able to become symbols of hope and resilience:




1. Acknowledging the Struggle:


First responders are often seen as the embodiment of strength and resilience. However, it's essential to recognize that they are not immune to the mental and emotional toll their jobs can take. The constant exposure to trauma, the pressure to perform under extreme circumstances, and the burden of carrying the weight of others' lives on their shoulders can lead to overwhelming stress, anxiety, and depression. It's okay to admit that you're struggling; it's a sign of courage, not weakness.




2. Seeking Help is a Sign of Strength:


As a first responder, seeking help might seem like an admission of vulnerability, but it's quite the opposite. It takes immense strength to acknowledge when you need assistance and to reach out for support. Whether it's talking to a therapist, a peer support group, or a trusted friend, opening up about your struggles can be the first step toward healing.




3. Prioritizing Self-Care:


Just as you diligently care for the well-being of others, it's crucial to prioritize self-care. This includes not only physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and quality sleep are foundational, but also remember the importance of hobbies, relaxation, and time with loved ones. Take breaks when needed; you deserve them.




4. Breaking the Stigma:


One of the most significant obstacles to addressing the issue of suicide among first responders is the stigma surrounding mental health. It's time to break down these barriers and normalize conversations about mental well-being. By sharing your experiences and encouraging your colleagues to do the same, you can help create a culture where seeking help is seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.




5. Embracing Hope and Resilience:


You chose a career that embodies courage and resilience. Despite the darkness that may sometimes cloud your path, remember that you are not alone in your journey. Thousands of first responders have faced similar challenges and emerged stronger. Your life is worth living, and there is hope even in the darkest moments.




Conclusion:


To our brave first responders, you are the people that society depends on. But you are also human, with your own struggles and vulnerabilities. By acknowledging your challenges, seeking help when needed, and prioritizing self-care, you can overcome the darkness that may surround you. Together, we can break the stigma, promote mental well-being, and ensure that our first responders not only save lives but also cherish their own. Your journey is a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and your story can be a beacon of hope for others facing similar battles. Remember, there is a community that cares for you, and a future filled with light and purpose waiting for you to embrace. You are not alone, and your life is precious.



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"Hypervigilance is a state of elevated alertness. Hypervigilance is one of the central features of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I was introduced to hypervigilance 23 years ago, although I had no idea that was what it was. About six months post release from the military and his tour to Bosnia, my spouse was in a state of constant alertness. Checking and rechecking doors and windows to make sure they were locked, needing to know where I was at all times, questioning whether the kids were safe, and the list went on. For several years this was our reality, and was very normal for us.

What I didn’t realize was how this hypervigilance was transferring to me. I too was now on constant alert for possible triggers that might create chaos in our home. Were the kids being too loud? Would this family function be too overwhelming and crowded? Did the cleaner I was using have bleach in it? My spouse had several smell triggers, bleach being one of them.

This state of my own heightened alert went on for many years. I now call it my survival mode. And it got me through. What I didn’t realize was how exhausting and depleting it was to my mind and body. It was not until years and a few counsellors later that the light bulb went on – I couldn’t control everything, nor could I fix my spouse or the create the perfect environment for him to live in. I was tired.

It did not just switch on, it was a process of increased awareness each time I realized I was trying to control the environment around my spouse. What helped most was communication between us. We found solutions that we both agreed upon that would help all of us work through this next phase of letting go of the control ..."

For more on this Blog from the Atlas Institute, click here!

Our mission is to inspire hope and contribute to the continuous well-being and recovery process of Veterans and Front Line Protectors across Canada.

We seek to empower and encourage them to strive for recovery through peer and professional support while creating greater public awareness.

We at OSI-CAN do not see PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Disorder, we see it as an Injury you can recover from. If you are suffering from the symptoms of an Occupational or Operational Stress Injury, then a PTSD or PTSI diagnosis is not required to get our help

The target demographic of OSI-CAN are but are not limited to: former and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Allied Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Frontline Protectors --- which include Municipal Police Services, CN Police Services, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Protection Services, Wildland Firefighters, Hospital Trauma personnel, Nurses, healthcare Workers, Social Workers, Animal Control Officers, Coroners, Indigenous Emergency Management, Victim Services Personnel, Emergency Communications Specialist, Corrections Officers, “Volunteer” First Responders, Conservation Officers, Aboriginal Emergency Services personnel, Tow Truck drivers who clean up accident scenes and their spouses/partners. This demographic was chosen due to the commonality of experiences they share through the service they provide to the country and community. We have a special interest and support volunteer first responders as they are not eligible for programs such as Workers' Compensation.

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PSPNET Families is an online wellbeing hub designed to support the specific yet diverse challenges faced by families of public safety personnel (PSP).

We provide a wide range of resources. Information and strategies have been developed to help PSP families manage this unique lifestyle.

Here, spouses or significant others may also access a free, self-guided iCBT (internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy) course anytime that will help them understand and manage their mental health.


Our mission is to inspire hope and contribute to the continuous well-being and recovery process of Veterans and Front Line Protectors across Canada.

We seek to empower and encourage them to strive for recovery through peer and professional support while creating greater public awareness.

We at OSI-CAN do not see PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Disorder, we see it as an Injury you can recover from. If you are suffering from the symptoms of an Occupational or Operational Stress Injury, then a PTSD or PTSI diagnosis is not required to get our help



The target demographic of OSI-CAN are but are not limited to: former and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Allied Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Frontline Protectors --- which include Municipal Police Services, CN Police Services, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Protection Services, Wildland Firefighters, Hospital Trauma personnel, Nurses, healthcare Workers, Social Workers, Animal Control Officers, Coroners, Indigenous Emergency Management, Victim Services Personnel, Emergency Communications Specialist, Corrections Officers, “Volunteer” First Responders, Conservation Officers, Aboriginal Emergency Services personnel, Tow Truck drivers who clean up accident scenes and their spouses/partners. This demographic was chosen due to the commonality of experiences they share through the service they provide to the country and community. We have a special interest and support volunteer first responders as they are not eligible for programs such as Workers' Compensation.


4 views0 comments
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Our mission is to inspire hope and contribute to the continuous well-being and recovery process of Veterans and Front Line Protectors across Canada.

 

We seek to empower and encourage them to strive for recovery through peer and professional support while creating greater public awareness.

We at OSI-CAN do not see PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Disorder, we see it as an Injury you can recover from.  If you are suffering from the symptoms of an Occupational or Operational Stress Injury, then a PTSD or PTSI diagnosis is not required to get our help

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