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.”
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.