A nationwide survey of Canadian paramedics shows a great number struggling with mental health issues including PTSD.
In New Brunswick the research is especially troubling.
About 1 out of every 3 New Brunswick paramedics responded to the survey. The figures, while not a complete surprise, are eye-popping and troubling. They show about one-third of New Brunswick paramedics have contemplated suicide, and 70 per cent responded that they were aware of a paramedic, aside from themselves, who thought about committing suicide. The figure jumps to almost 80% of paramedics who reported they were or are worried about a colleague's well being.
92% of respondents say the greatest need is for access to counseling from mental health professionals who understand paramedicine.
Obviously this is an issue that demands action. The PANB is committed to doing everything it can to put in place the necessary measures to responsibly deal with PTSD. This includes:
- Better screening and education for individuals who are thinking about entering the profession;
- Much more foundational knowledge on mental health and resiliency in educational programs;
- Much more support for paramedics throughout their careers, including unlimited, professional, and paramedic focused mental health services and ongoing education about mental health and resiliency by the profession;
- Legislative changes and including Compensation Act changes including presumptive diagnosis so that all barriers to financial and professional help for someone suffering from PTSD are eliminated.
This is a serious issue that will take time to address. It involves changing attitudes, putting supports in place, and changing legislation. But we can and we are committed to seeing progress made as soon as possible. We encourage all paramedics to bring their ideas and concerns to your Association, and we particularly ask that anyone affected by PTSD to come forward so you can get the help you deserve.