Break­ing down the stigma around PTSD

An­nual Help­ing the Helpers con­tin­ues the con­ver­sa­tion

The Casket - - Local - RICHARD MACKEN­ZIE richard­mac@the­cas­ket.ca

“Emo­tional.”

That was the word or­ga­nizer Michelle Macdon­ald used to de­scribe the morn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of the fifth an­nual Help­ing the Helpers — an aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion day for post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD) — which was held Satur­day (Oct. 27), at the Schwartz School of Busi­ness au­di­to­rium on the cam­pus of St. F.X.

She was speak­ing dur­ing a lunch-time break with a full af­ter­noon of speak­ers still to take the stage.

“The emo­tion here is amaz­ing,” she said, while adding the ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion, which con­cludes the day, is some­thing at­ten­dees re­ally look for­ward to.

“A lot of peo­ple en­joy that op­por­tu­nity to talk to the pre­sen­ters,” she said.

Speak­ing the fol­low­ing day, while at the In­spec­tor Tony Perry Me­mo­rial Hockey Game, John Garth Macdon­ald, from Help­ing the Helpers, said the whole day “was awe­some” with a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back.

“The feed­back we re­ceived is, peo­ple are go­ing to spread aware­ness of PTSD; help break down the stigma, the bar­ri­ers, and more than half are al­ready talk­ing about be­ing back next year,” he said.

John Garth noted how at­ten­dance has grown from 74 in the event’s first year to more than 300.

“We’re get­ting the aware­ness out and more peo­ple are en­gaged in the con­ver­sa­tion,” he said, not­ing pre­sen­ta­tions come from peo­ple con­sist­ing of; “front-line pro­fes­sion­als with lived ex­pe­ri­ences, along with fam­ily mem­bers who have lived with a first re­spon­der liv­ing with PTSD, and clin­i­cians who also speak to PTSD.”

He noted sur­veys are taken each year to de­ter­mine what pre­sen­ta­tions at­ten­dees would like to see for fu­ture events.

“We re­view our sur­veys and, based on those, we’ll plan for next year,” he said. “So what the ma­jor­ity is look­ing for; and we’ll start within the next month or so plan­ning for next year.”

For more on Help­ing the Helpers, visit the group’s web­site – help­ingth­e­helpers.ca or Face­book page.

Richard Macken­zie

Psy­chol­o­gist Kathy Rolfe giv­ing her pre­sen­ta­tion dur­ing the fifth an­nual Help­ing the Helpers event, Oct. 27, at the Schwartz School of Busi­ness au­di­to­rium on the cam­pus of St. F.X.

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