Workplace Stress Injuries in First Responders are an often-overlooked field in mental health. A new initiative has been started by Worksafe Saskatchewan and the First Responders Mental Health Committee to create more open discussion and awareness, along with resources and tools for those affected. A study by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry showed First Responders at a risk 5 times higher than the average Canadian, at 45% of the 5,815 surveyed. Nicholas Hennink, Advanced Care Paramedic at the Moose Jaw District EMS Services, spoke on how the issue has changed over the years.

"It used to be a stigma with EMS, and what with First Responders in general, to be a tough guy right, to be that A personality, just do your job, get over it, kinda thing, but it's not that way anymore. A lot of us struggle with the job, it came out with more information, more people came through and came out and said they were struggling, they needed help, but we realized there wasn't a lot of options out there."

Hennink said that though the exact number of First Responders with a mental injury may not be known, the movement for acceptance has definitely grown.

"I just know that with my experience within the last 16 years, there has definitely been a big push to come forward when you are struggling, so it's not so much of an embarrassment or that stigma these days, so there's a lot more people speaking out about their struggles, which makes it easier for other people coming forward, so yeah the numbers have definitely increased in that way."

A grant from the Federal Government has been given to the Canadian Institute of Health Research of $11 million dollars for First Responders across the country, for the purpose of diagnosing tools, and resources for those affected by Post Traumatic Stress.

"There are so many different options and opinions as to where that money is gonna go, and how we're gonna use it. I'm just really hoping that that money is gonna go into actually helping the individuals that are struggling. We can do as much research as we want to, which is great, research is fantastic, but there are people struggling today and we need to do something for them now." said Hennink, who explained his opinion of the situation.

Firefighters, Police, Paramedics and Dispatchers within Canada will be the primary focus of the resources, for both themselves and their friends, families, and communities. You can find out more about the movement and resources at the Sask First Responder's website.


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