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On June 27, U of R’s CIPSRT invites all Canadians to help reduce stigma surrounding PTSD

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 22, 2020 9:00 a.m.

Unite around teal to reduce PTSD stigma! CIPSRT encourages all Canadians to wear teal on June 27 to mark 40th anniversary of PTSD recognition as a mental health disorder.
Unite around teal to reduce PTSD stigma! CIPSRT encourages all Canadians to wear teal on June 27 to mark 40th anniversary of PTSD recognition as a mental health disorder. Photo: iStock.com

Forty years after Posttraumatic Stress Disorder was officially recognized, stigma still surrounds this all-too-common response to trauma.
 
Studies show that in North America, about 50 to 90 per cent of people may experience one or more potentially traumatic events during their lifetime and that 5 to 10 per cent of this group may develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
 
Certain responses to potentially traumatic experiences are considered to be normal. For example, it is okay to feel unsettled or uncomfortable at first, because most people recover and return to normal life within a few days of exposure to traumatic events.
 
However, some people go on to have longer-lasting health challenges. This includes people in careers where exposure to potentially traumatic events may be more common, more frequent or longer in nature, such as public safety personnel (PSP), including police officers, career and volunteer firefighters, paramedics, correctional employees, border services personnel, and public-safety communications officials.
 

The teal ribbon has been assigned as the symbol of PTSD awareness.

University of Regina’s psychology professor and scientific director of the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT), Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, describes PTSD as “a mental health disorder which can occur following exposure to specific types of potentially psychologically traumatic events involving a severe threat to oneself or others.”
 
Since 2019, the province of Ontario has dedicated June 27 as PTSD Awareness Day in order to educate and create awareness around PTSD, as well as to reduce the stigma for PSP facing PTSD.
 
Interestingly, PTSD was not formally recognized as a mental health disorder until 1980 when it was officially entered into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). That means 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the formal recognition of PTSD as a mental health disorder.
 
“To mark this special day, CIPSRT has produced an educational video that documents the progress society has made in our understanding of PTSD,” says Dr. Nicholas Jones, CIPSRT Executive Director and Interim Associate Vice-President (Research). “We have come a long way in forty years and at CIPSRT we have been able to disseminate a further understanding of the effects PTSD has on PSP in Canada as well as make progress on PSP-specific treatment. We’re encouraging all Canadians to join with CIPSRT to watch and share this video as part of PTSD Awareness Day on June 27.”
 
The teal ribbon has been assigned as the symbol of PTSD awareness. “The goal is to get all Canadians wearing a teal on June 27 in order to support Canada’s public safety personnel who protect and keep all of us safe,” adds Jones.
 
In the past few years, the University of Regina has been engaged in strategic efforts and partnerships to meet some of the mental health needs of Canada’s PSP. In January 2019, the U of R and Public Safety Canada signed a contribution agreement to operationalize the Government of Canada’s commitment to establish a new national research consortium to address PTSD among public safety personnel.
 
This resulted in the establishment of CIPSRT, and the public safety personnel internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy (PSPNET) to address post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI), coordinate research, enhance access to treatment, and improve the well-being of police officers, career and volunteer firefighters, paramedics, correctional employees, border services personnel, and public-safety communications officials, living with depression, anxiety, and PTSI.
 
For more information on PTSD Awareness Day activities, please visit https://www.cipsrt-icrtsp.ca/ptsd-40th-anniversary/ or follow CIPSRT on Twitter @CIPSRT_ICRTSP and Facebook CIPSRT-ICRTSP.

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