Post Traumatic Stress Disorder “Rises Above” Locally

On January 29th, in honour of Bell Let’s Talk Day 2020, a local event, “Rise Above PTSD: Stories of Redemption” was held at the Ten Seven Café & Lounge.

4 local first responders (Murray Dawson, Brian Knowler, Emily Hime and Gary Deroo) who have struggled with the demons of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, took part in a fireside chat about their stories, how their families have been affected in the process and details about their road to recovery. For one speaker, this was the first time he had ever told his story publicly – which he did while clutching the “worry stone” around his neck.

A common thread connecting each story was the reality of having been re-traumatized over and over by a range of factors including misinformed colleagues, the employers attendance program – even with a doctors note – the calls from HR wanting to know when they would be returning to work, and the standard WSIB process causing them to relive the years of traumatic incidents in order to decide whether or not their trauma was cumulative.

When asked what they needed most at their absolute lowest points, all candidates agreed – an employer who understands mental health and makes being trauma-informed a full staff and organizational priority.

The audience on the 29th consisted of a wide range of community members, including students in the Police Foundations program at St. Clair College. What different between the speakers and new communities newest recruits is that now, students are told up front that they will see things that most people, in most professions will never see. Taking care of their mental health is made a priority right from day one. None of the panelists were recipients of that same knowledge prior to embarking on their careers.

CK Public Health recognizes the importance of becoming trauma-informed and can help individuals, organizations and businesses achieve a level of this in order to become more humane, empathetic and understanding both on and off the clock. For more information, additional resources or to speak to a Public Health Educator specializing in Mental Health, please visit