New mental health support website launched for first responders

The Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board and the Saskatchewan First Responders Mental health Committee are partnering to bring mental health supports to first responders.

According to a 2017 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry survey, 45 percent of first responders showed some symptoms consistent with an operational stress injury, which is four times the rate of the average Canadian.

WCB spokesperson Kevin Mooney said an important message to first responders is to seek support early and often.

“If there are struggling with signs and symptoms, that’s why I think it’s important to stress that we have the self-assessments on there,” Mooney said. “They’re confidential, you can go on there, assess how you’re feeling, depending on what the result is you can take that to you family doctor or start accessing some of the self-care documents that are on there to get help before it develops into an injury.”

Co-chair of the Saskatchewan First Responders Mental Health Committee Jeff Reeder said it’s great to see something in place for those who deal with traumatic events every day.

“I’ve had my own personal journey with post traumatic stress, and I’m a testament that you can heal from this, it’s not a life-lying, debilitating illness or injury,” Reeder said. “Just sticking with it and getting access to the treatment can get you back to work and functioning again, so it’s a message that we want to get out there.”

Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said it was important to make sure this program is available at all times.

“I think everything we do today, we want to have quick and ready access, people who work in emergency service fields don’t work a Monday-Friday day job, and so being able to access it at two in the morning, being able to access it sometimes in anonymity, is an important part of it, that first step.”

The supports can also be accessed by first responders anonymously.

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