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PROMOTING MENTAL HEALTH IN FIRST RESPONDERS

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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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Essex Windsor EMS Paramedic First Responders
Lakeshore Fire Department First Responders
Amherstburg Fire Department First Responders
LaSalle Fire Department First Responders
Windsor Fire & Rescue Department First Responders
OPP Ontario Provincial Police First Responders
LaSalle Police Department First Responders
Tecumseh Fire Department First Responders
Windsor Police First Responders
Leamington Fire Department First Responders
Kingsville Fire Department First Responders
Essex Fire Department First Responders

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Suicide is the act of causing one’s own death intentionally and is often related to complex mental health issues, stressors, and substance abuse. Unfortunately, suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death in Canada and claims thousands of lives every year. Regardless of one’s age or gender, people who are struggling and experience loss of hope in their lives often resort to suicide. Fortunately, suicide can be prevented.   There are many signs and symptoms of people who are at risk for suicide, including:   Increased use of substance abuse Sudden changes in mood and behaviour Expressing the desire to die or end one’s life Displaying hopelessness or helplessness Preparing for their death (for example giving away their belongings, writing a will, writing letters to loved ones) Change in regular behaviour such as decreased appetite or a change in sleeping patterns   It can be challenging to find the relationship between some of these warning signs and suicide. In this article, we will highlight substance abuse as a dimension of suicide.   What Is Substance Abuse?   Substance use is on a spectrum from helpful to harmful, and when the use of substances like alcohol and drugs becomes harmful it is considered abuse. The addictive nature of substances can be a contributing factor to substance abuse, making it difficult for someone to quit. It is important to note that substance use can have an impact on mental health and vice versa.   Understanding the Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Suicide   When discussing suicide, it is important to note that the misuse of drugs and alcohol is a prominent risk factor for suicide, especially among youth. It is difficult to understand the relationship between addictions, overdose, substance abuse, and suicide; however, there are many theories as to why this relationship exists.   According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is an increased suicide risk for people with prevalent mental illnesses who have substance abuse disorders as substances can negatively affect one's mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. There is an interconnected relationship between mental health issues such as depression, addiction to substances, and suicide. One reason for this is that people with depression may turn to substances like drugs and alcohol to numb their pain; however, sometimes the use of these substances increases the severity of depressive and suicidal thoughts. Substance misuse can severely impact one’s judgement which can lead to suicidal attempts.   Reducing the Risk of Suicide   While suicide is a preventable cause of death, it is important to note that it cannot be prevented in all cases. Some strategies that can be applied to reducing the risk of suicide include:   Seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one with substance abuse Building strong support networks such as family, friends, and peer, support groups Seeking care for mental health concerns, such as an increase in suicidal thoughts Having a sense of responsibility Developing positive coping skills   Helpful Resources   If you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts, it is important to seek immediate help. There are many helpful resources to understanding suicide prevention, and support tools:   We Help First: Preventing Suicide CAMH: Suicide Prevention CAMH 24 Hour Crisis Line Kids Help Phone We Help First: Understanding Substance Abuse National Institute of Mental Health: Suicide Prevention Peer Support Canada Windsor Crisis Centre  


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.


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