Standing alongside with support
POST-TRAUMATIC Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop in anyone who has experienced a traumatic event.
For first-responders such as police, firefighters, paramedics and military personnel, the experiences can be more common.
Government and non-government agencies have worked hard to support these people, but support solely for the partners of these people has not been a common practice. Three local women want to change that. St James resident Sarah, with Paige and Laura, formed Alongside – a not-for-profit organisation that provides support, education, respite and empowerment to partners of people with PTSD.
In March this year the women met after Sarah, who is now the chief executive of the organisation, shared her story of supporting a spouse with PTSD publicly.
The story resonated with Paige and Laura, and all three felt there was nowhere to reach out to when supporting a spouse with mental health issues, which resulted from their job.
They have been busy for the past four months and have gained support from government and non-government organisations including the WA Police Union (WAPU).
Sarah said the aim of Alongside was to strengthen and provide support networks for people so they were better equipped to help their partner through problems.
She said while there was a lot of support for people suffering from PTSD, there was not enough for the partners, who are usually the main supporters.
“Services on this end are crucial,” she said.
Sarah’s husband is a serving police officer and developed PTSD from an event on the job.
“It’s a very isolating journey being the spouse. I was very lonely.” She said sharing her story publicly was the last resort in her search for help.
“It just snowballed from there,” she said. “Just being able to talk to someone helped.”
Alongside offers support groups for partners and will continue to expand to include more education and training.
WAPU has voiced its support for Alongside and senior vice-president Brandon Shortland said the organisation was a fantastic initiative.
“I believe it is a perfect partnership for WAPU. While we assist members, this or- ganisation can assist their partners,” he said.
“WAPU recognises the huge role partners and families play in helping members with psychological injuries.
He said the board was due to consider seed funding for Alongside this month.
“In the meantime, we are providing Alongside with advertising space on our website and in Police News.”
See page 8 for Susanne Reilly’s editorial about life as a policeman’s partner.
If you think you or know someone who may be suffering from PTSD, contact BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636.
Paige, Sarah and Laura have started a support group for partners of people with PTSD.