Jun 07, 2016

Mental health workshop promotes first responder wellness

Interactive training to include leading practices aimed at supporting psychological health

RICHMOND—A mental health workshop to be held here tomorrow will provide ambulance paramedics, emergency dispatchers, and other first responders with the opportunity to discuss some of the latest tools and practices designed to protect and promote psychological health and safety in the high-stress environment of emergency health care.

The workshop, “Mental Health for First Responders: Protecting Those Who Help Others,” is a timely response to a growing problem. In a 2015 national survey by the Paramedic Association of Canada, 97 per cent of respondents said that paramedics need support for the cumulative impact of multiple trauma calls over their careers while 94 per cent said they need support for depression and anxiety.

“While many first responder organizations have adopted or are beginning to implement leading practices in mental health promotion and protection, much work is still needed,” says CUPE 873 (Ambulance Paramedics of BC) President Bronwyn Barter. “The great thing about this workshop is that first responders from across disciplines will be able to network and share new approaches, insights and opportunities, then come away from it with concrete next steps for both themselves and their organizations.”

The free and interactive workshop, which opens with a presentation by Delta Police Chief Constable Neil Dubord, will focus on effective practices, tools and resources. As well as addressing the business case for promoting and protecting psychological health and safety, it will look at what others in similar work environments are doing to effectively address the mental health of first responders.

“Supporting the psychological health and safety of first responders and public safety personnel is an important area of focus, as they face an increased risk of mental injury due to the nature of their operational duties,” says Ed Mantler, Vice President of Programs and Priorities for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Co-Sponsored by CUPE 873, CUPE 873-02 (Emergency Dispatchers of BC), and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the workshop is being held on Wednesday, June 8, at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel. It runs from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

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