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SLIDESHOW: Helping the Helpers day breaking down the stigma around PTSD


Annual event continues the conversation

ANTIGONISH, N.S. - “Emotional.”

That was the word organizer Michelle MacDonald used to describe the morning activities of the fifth annual Helping the Helpers – an awareness and education day for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – which was held Saturday (Oct. 27), at the Schwartz School of Business auditorium on the campus of St. F.X.    

She was speaking during a lunch-time break with a full afternoon of speakers still to take the stage.

“The emotion here is amazing,” she said, while adding the question and answer session, which concludes the day, is something attendees really look forward to.

“A lot of people enjoy that opportunity to talk to the presenters,” she said.

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Speaking the following day, while at the Inspector Tony Perry Memorial Hockey Game, John Garth MacDonald, from Helping the Helpers, said the whole day “was awesome” with a lot of positive feedback.

“The feedback we received is, people are going to spread awareness of PTSD; help break down the stigma, the barriers, and more than half are already talking about being back next year,” he said.

John Garth noted how attendance has grown from 74 in the event’s first year to more than 300.

“We’re getting the awareness out and more people are engaged in the conversation,” he said, noting presentations come from people consisting of; “front-line professionals with lived experiences, along with family members who have lived with a first responder living with PTSD, and clinicians who also speak to PTSD.”

He noted surveys are taken each year to determine what presentations attendees would like to see for future events.

“We review our surveys and, based on those, we’ll plan for next year,” he said. “So what the majority is looking for; and we’ll start within the next month or so planning for next year.”

For more on Helping the Helpers, visit the group’s website – helpingthehelpers.ca or Facebook page.  

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