Richmond conference this week discusses mental health of first responders

Some 400 first responders and their employers are gathering in Richmond for a conference this week to talk about the mental health of police officers, firefighters and ambulance paramedics.

It’s the first ever B.C.-based conference of its type.

“It’s about getting the message out and breaking down the stigma,” says Bob Parkinson, a paramedic.

Parkinson says the key is talking about the stories they carry that they say they would rather not discuss.

“We suffer from some of the most tragic injuries that people do in the workplace and for a long time they’ve gone unnoticed or people have been unwilling or unable to talk about them,” Parkinson says.

“There’s always been a stigma. It’s been entrenched in the paramedic and dispatcher world to ‘suck it up.’ If you show weakness, then you weren’t mean for the job or anything like that.”

This conference is also unique because it includes employers, not just front-line workers.

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