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The Windsor Essex First Responder Coalition seeks to develop a unified and collaborative approach to building resilience, reducing stigma, and promoting mental wellbeing in First Responders. As a direct result of doing their job, First Responders are at increased risk of experiencing occupational stress and other mental health issues. In recognition of this, the partners work together to develop strategies and programs to address the continuum of mental health issues known to impact First Responders. Learn More >


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Published Monday, January 18, 2021 7:32PM EST The Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex Branch in Windsor, Ont. on Friday, May 29 2020 (Michelle Maluske/CTV Windsor) WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex chapter launched its Million Dollar fundraising campaign Monday to support an expected increased need for mental health services.  Communications and mental health promotion director Kim Willis said recent research is pointing to concerns for those who are vulnerable and marginalized, as well as those who may not have considered themselves at risk for anxiety, depression or addictions. “With this current lockdown, the pressures on workers of all kinds - first responders, health care manufacturing, schools, and entrepreneurs to name a few are daunting.  So many people are feeling the strain,” she said in a CMHA news release.  “As the lead provider of community mental health services, as well as mental health promotion, we know we can’t take our foot off the gas so to speak. The Million Dollar campaign has launched in line with the branch’s 50th anniversary in the community. The campaign is based on a strategy the CMHA developed early last year having been able to continue its signature events like the Go Green Golf tournament safely, while introducing new virtual events like Ride Don’t Hide. “As a native Windsorite I’m extremely proud that over the last 50 years, CMHA-WECB has been an invaluable community healthcare provider serving thousands of some of the most marginalized individuals,” Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario, said. CMHA Windsor-Essex also notes it has the support of champions, ambassadors, workplaces, groups and individuals who have helped to raise funds through third party events. “People are struggling in so many areas,” said CEO Claudia den Boer. “CMHA-WECB is continuing to help people through our mental health programs and our Health Centre, but we know that prevention and education is a necessity during a time when we are not even sure what awaits us next.” The organization says it is confident it can reach its million-dollar goal based on the community support it has already received.

Mental Health   We know that mental health is just as important as our physical health, but why do we often overlook mental health? Mental health is often overlooked because of social stigmas. In cultures with an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude, people tend to take physical illnesses or impairments as more important. While some mental illnesses can cause people to display their symptoms, other mental illnesses seem invisible.    Stigmas surrounding mental health are a barrier for people that prevents them from seeking help. Because of this, diagnosis and treatment for those with mental illnesses are often delayed or not recognized at all.   What Is Mental Readiness?   To prepare yourself for an upcoming task, case, or long day at work, many people often focus on getting physically prepared. One may work out to ensure they are physically capable of performing their duty, or make sure they have a healthy lunch to keep their energy up throughout the day. But what many people don’t consider when preparing to perform optimally at work is becoming mentally prepared.   So, what exactly is “mental readiness”? Mental readiness refers to the ability to create a balanced psychological state for one to perform at an optimal level. Being mentally ready can include learning how to focus, self-manage, and maintain a healthy discipline to approach and perform a task.   Mental readiness is the act of prioritizing your mental health and wellness. By doing so, you’re able to foster a safe and productive space to perform optimally whether you’re at work and performing daily tasks.   Why Is Mental Readiness Important for First Responders?   Mental readiness is important for first responders because they often face challenging and dangerous situations. Communities rely on first responders to keep them safe and part of doing so means knowing how to handle stress and danger. The nature of the work that first responders do is often highly stressful and can take a toll on one’s mental health. As a first responder, being mentally ready or prepared is crucial to performing optimally.   By focusing on your mental readiness as a first responder, you can improve your performance and long-term mental health.   About Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR)   Road to Mental Readiness, or R2MR, is a program designed to improve the performance and mental health of first responders. This program was created by the Department of National Defence and provided by CPSIRT. The objectives of the R2MR program is to:   Educate first responders about mental illness and operational stress injuries (OSI) Reduce public and self-stigma, and negative attitudes towards mental illnesses Increase support and understanding of mental health in first responders Help first responders improve their resiliency and maintain their mental health with new skills Promote mental health among first responders   The benefits of the R2MR program extend beyond the workplace, providing first responders with the skills and coping mechanisms needed to maintain their mental health at home too.   To participate in the R2MR program, you must be public safety personnel or directly support a public safety organization, including:   Police Services, (Municipal, Provincial or Federal) Volunteer or Career Firefighters Paramedics, Front Line or Managers Correctional Employees (Provincial or Federal) Border Services Personnel Operational and Intelligence Personnel Search and Rescue Personnel Indigenous Emergency Managers Dispatch and Communications Personnel Hospital Staff, primarily Emergency Department Staff   Education and Training Resources   To learn more about the Road to Mental Readiness program, click here.   For all inquiries about education and training related to mental health, mental illness, and suicide prevention, please contact us.

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