New pro­gram aims to tackle the so­cial iso­la­tion of PTSD

You just end up keep­ing to your­self and fig­ure that you can deal with it all alone. And that’s prob­a­bly the worst way to deal with it.”

Times Colonist - - Front Page - RICHARD WATTS rwatts@times­colonist.com

For 15-year army vet­eran Ja­son Camp­bell, the first symp­tom of post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der is not per­sonal — it’s the so­cial iso­la­tion that al­ways seems to de­velop.

Camp­bell, now re­tired, was a cor­po­ral in Princess Pa­tri­cia’s Cana­dian Light In­fantry. He served in Kosovo and was later as­signed to as­sist sol­diers re­turn­ing from Afghanistan. He lost friends and even served as a pall bearer. In 2011, he was di­ag­nosed with PTSD and re­leased.

“You just end up keep­ing to your­self and fig­ure that you can deal with it all alone,” said the 44-year-old from Chilli­wack.

“And that’s prob­a­bly the worst way to deal with it.”

Camp­bell was in Vic­to­ria on Thurs­day for the an­nounce­ment of a new pro­gram to help peo­ple deal with PTSD. The an­nounce­ment was made at the B.C. Afghanistan Memo­rial Mon­u­ment at the cor­ner of Quadra and Courtney streets.

Wounded War­riors Canada de­vel­oped its Trauma Re­siliency Pro­gram to serve mil­i­tary vet­er­ans and first re­spon­ders such as fire­fight­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers and paramedics, whose work­place might leave men­tal or emo­tional wounds.

Tim Black, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria who helped de­velop the Wounded War­riors pro­gram, said the so­cial iso­la­tion of trauma can be dif­fi­cult to over­come.

“Trauma tends to isolate peo­ple,” Black said.

“It makes peo­ple want to dis­ap­pear and dis­con­nect.”

He said it’s time PTSD is rec­og­nized as an hon­ourable in­jury, a wound suf­fered in the line of duty — not some­thing to feel un­com­fort­able about.

“We know now what trauma can do to peo­ple,” said Black, who has more than 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence treat­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma. “So when peo­ple are do­ing the work needed to get bet­ter, that, in my mind, is some­thing that should make peo­ple proud.”

He said no­body re­cov­er­ing from some­thing like a knee in­jury is em­bar­rassed or ashamed about go­ing to a gym to get the mus­cles back into shape.

Like­wise, there should be no stigma about seek­ing help to get over the ef­fects of men­tal or emo­tional wounds suf­fered dur­ing trau­matic events.

The pro­gram helps par­tic­i­pants ac­quire the nec­es­sary tools for over­com­ing the ef­fects of trauma. It is group-based so it can draw upon the strengths laid down and re­in­forced by mil­i­tary life.

Black said mil­i­tary per­son­nel are trained to work as mem­bers of a group and solve problems as a team. Those are good places to start a pro­gram based on the value of hard work and the im­por­tance of peer recog­ni­tion.

Wounded War­riors is mak­ing the train­ing avail­able across Canada to en­able the startup of Trauma Re­siliency Pro­grams. The first pro­gram will be de­liv­ered this week­end in Vic­to­ria.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to wound­ed­war­riors.ca.

Wounded War­riors Canada’s Scott Maxwell at the B.C. Afghanistan Memo­rial on Thurs­day. The or­ga­ni­za­tion has de­vel­oped a pro­gram to help deal with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

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