by Jami DeLoe
Applying the 12 steps to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recovery is just one way that I have found to strengthen my recovery and improve my life. Because the steps that are commonly used for addiction recovery are all about learning to live life a new way, they can successfully be applied to many things other than drug addiction and alcoholism. I’ve used the 12 steps for my alcoholism, codependency, and PTSD, and I have found that if you are open-minded and willing, they really do work. Steps four, five, and six are the focus of this post about applying the 12 steps to PTSD recovery.
Applying Steps Four, Five, and Six to PTSD Recovery Continue reading
Sleep disturbances are very common in combat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, two types of sleep disturbances — nightmares and insomnia — are actually diagnostic criteria for PTSD. We’re not sure why PTSD affects sleep so profoundly but research is getting closer to finding out. But can sleep disturbances in combat PTSD be treated and if so, how? Continue reading
Province focuses on prevention, reducing stigma
Ontario is putting in place a number of new initiatives to help prevent or mitigate the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among first responders.
Evidence shows that first responders such as police personnel, firefighters and paramedics are at least twice as likely as the general population to suffer from PTSD, due to the risk of routine exposure to traumatic stressors.
The province’s prevention strategy has four major elements:
• The creation of a radio and digital campaign aimed at increasing awareness about PTSD amongst first responders, their families and communities and eliminating the stigma that too often prevents those in need from seeking help
• An annual leadership summit to be hosted by the Minister of Labour to highlight best practices, recognize leaders, and monitor progress in dealing with PTSD
• A free online toolkit with resources on PTSD tailored to meet the needs of employers and each of the first responder sectors
• Grants for research that supports the prevention of PTSD.
Ensuring employers have the resources they need to improve mental health supports is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.
• PTSD involves clinically significant distress and impairment to functioning, and the development of certain types of symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic events. It can include painful flashbacks, nightmares, outbursts, thoughts of suicide and feelings of worry, guilt or sadness.
• On March 5, 2015, Ontario hosted the Summit on Work Related Traumatic Mental Stress. The province’s strategy builds on the dialogue and feedback from the Summit.
A Bruce County paramedic who helped to launch the national “I’ve got your back 911” mental health awareness campaign for first responders says the province’s announcement of a new post-traumatic stress strategy for emergency workers is a step in the right direction.
But Jill Foster says it doesn’t go far enough and it’s crucial that the province approves legislation like the proposed private member’s Bill 2, which would expand workers compensation coverage for police officers, paramedics and firefighters in Ontario by recognizing PTSD as a workplace illness.
“I think peoples’ lives depend on that bill,” she said Thursday in an interview. Continue reading
At least four paramedics and four police officers have killed themselves this year across Canada. And those are just the ones we know about.
“These are the suicides that have been reported to us that we are able to confirm,” says Vince Savoia, founder and executive director of The Tema Conter Memorial Trust.
Toronto Police Const. Darius Garda’s body was pulled from Lake Ontario Thursday, the third death of an Ontario first responder over five days.
A police source told Global News Garda had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder ever since he was involved in the April 19, 2010 shooting at the foot of Cherry and Commissioners Streets — nearby where Garda’s body was found. Continue reading
Private member’s bill up for debate in February
Ontario could be the next province to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder as a workplace illness for first responders, if a private member’s bill passes through the house.
The bill would change the burden of proof so that first responders with PTSD would be automatically considered for workers’ compensation if she needed to take medical leave.
Alberta and Manitoba have similar legislation in place. Continue reading
It is critical for EMTs and paramedics to check in with one another and advocate nationally for recognition of PTSD as a work-related illness
Our EMS colleagues in Canada have been making headway in getting post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a work-related illness. Ontario may follow Manitoba and Alberta’s move last year to help EMS providers manage their mental health conditions where there was little help previously.
PTSD is getting more attention, most likely due to returning veterans of recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. The attention is tragically well deserved; active duty military personnel suffer the highest rate of PTSD. But it’s becoming more evident that homeland protectors, such as EMTs, paramedics, firefighters and cops, suffer from PTSD at much higher rates — six times — than the general population. Continue reading