New Legislation for 1st Responders with PTSD
Just think about this, we are in the year 2016 and there is still a subset of our population that are still striving for legislative rights.
The same legislative rights that many of us take for granted in the US. Here in the United States, many of us have become accustom to everyone being fairly treated and having equal rights. We rally around the issues that we think have a disadvantage and beat down the doors of justice to make everything “fair and equal”. I’m not trying to get into politics here, but I just want you to have a visual of how good we have it in this great country. We even have new healthcare laws with the Affordable Health Care Act, or “Obamacare” as some will put it, which ensures (or ideally should ensure) that every person in the U.S. receives “affordable” health care (emphasis on the affordable part).
Think about it like this. When you feel sick and over the counter meds don’t seem to do the trick, you go to your doctor to get professional medical attention. Now let’s take that thought a little further.
When a person has a mental illness where do they go?
Right! A counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist.
When I was employed with Catholic Charities as a Veterans Employment Specialist Case Worker, I was given a number to a therapist hotline because of the mental demands of people management and case management. If I ever felt the need to vent, I could just call that number and vent. If I felt I needed additional attention, I would simply take my insurance card and go see a mental health professional in person.
However, this was not an option for some employees until recently.
In order for Canadian first responders to get access to mental health care treatment, especially if they are dealing with PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they had to first go through serious of steps before they were able to see a mental health professional. This meant that there is no urgent attention to be diagnosed & treated for PTSD. From the perspective of a person with PTSD, I am grateful that the mental health professionals in the Military saw me and quickly diagnosed and treated me…without it…I would not be alive today.
I was saved from jumping off the roof top of a building while in the military; all because a mental health professional had seen me earlier that day and noticed my apathetic and depressed state. This mental health professional came after me even when I ran and thought I had successfully made it to what would be my ultimate destination. He was accompanied with a police officer who helped him calm me down enough to get my mind off of my goal to stop the hurt and pain by ending my life.
will protect the brave men and women who we entrust with keeping us safe
Now the Canadian legislation, more specifically Ontario has responded to the need for quick, work related PTSD care for first responders and other employees who keep their streets safe, such as corrections officers. I believe this will be a life saving move in the right direction for identifying and caring for people with PTSD and mental health illness.
Here is what Ontario’s Minster of Labour (Labor), Kevin Flynn had to say:
“Given all that we ask of our first responders, it is only fair that we support them when they need us most. This legislation will give first responders and those who work in corrections the peace of mind they deserve…[we] will protect the brave men and women who we entrust with keeping us safe and secure.”
A study conducted by Dr. Charles Marmar et. al, of the San Francisco Veteran Medical Center, suggested that “screening and early prevention [of PTSD] is vital” for first responders to prevent early or premature retirement. The study also noted that early prevention and screening was imperative for every aspect of the officers life including “social, family and work settings”.
Regardless of the evidence, PTSD among first responders has been a issue for quite awhile now because they are the ones that are subjected to horrific homicide and murder scenes on a consistent basis, more than many of us would every see. Therefore, it should be a given that they have easy access to mental health care but in a social health care system , such as that in Canada, legislation has to be written to allow the access to mental health care that many of us take for granted.
You can read more about the Ontario legislative changes for first responders with PTSD or Post Traumatc Stress Disorder at the links below.
I kindly thank you for your time and may you continually have a blessed day.
Canadian Occupational Safety