(Windsor, March 20, 2019) – In 2018 Windsor-Essex County First Responder organizations were awarded a Ministry of Labour grant to develop strategies to enhance and support the mental health of First Responders. Since last year representatives from each First Responder agency in this region have been working together to establish a cohesive, coordinated approach to mental health including implementation of a collaborative Peer Support model. The work is being supported by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Windsor-Essex County Branch (CMHA-WECB), the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), Family Services Windsor-Essex, local hospitals, labour organizations, academics, clinicians and community support organizations.
“Although great inroads have been achieved as they relate to mental health and stigma, there is still much work to be done. This is particularly apparent when it comes to first responders who often fear they will be viewed as weak or ineffective if they share their struggles,” said Bruce Krauter, Chief, Essex-Windsor EMS.
Supporters (family/friends) of First Responders can also be adversely affected when a spouse, child or parent is struggling. To gain further insight into the needs of First Responders and their loved ones, a survey has been developed and those who have first responders in their lives (families, friends, and partners) are encouraged to complete the anonymous, non-identifying survey by May 31, 2019. Chief Don Williamson of Lakeshore Fire indicates, “In order to fully promote post-traumatic resilience, family members need to be involved in the recovery process as well.”
The survey is hosted on the WECHU server, https://bit.ly/2Od2REw. All project partners are encouraged to post the survey link on their social media accounts and use the hashtag #helpushelpyourlovedones.
“This confidential survey will help us develop further resources and tools for First Responders in the years to come. It is an optimal way to collect information that can be reviewed annually,” said Inspector Tammy Fryer of Windsor Police Service.
First Responder Mental Health Statistics
A 2018 Canadian study surveyed a national sample of more than 5000 First Responders. Occupations included were (a) correctional workers; (b) dispatchers; (c) firefighters; (d) paramedics, and (e) police officers.
• 44.5% of public safety personnel screened positive for any mental health disorder.
• 23.2% of public safety personnel screened positive for PTSD.
• 29% of public safety personnel screened positive for a mood disorder.
Findings by occupation:
o 34.1% screened positive for any mental health disorder.
o 49.1% screened positive for any mental health disorder.
• Police Officers (municipal/provincial)
o 36.7% screened positive for any mental health disorder.