Paramedic's death highlights need for more mental health support | National Union of Public and General Employees

Paramedic's death highlights need for more mental health support

"Today, supports are developing, but it’s an area that I still believe there has to be significant work done," says NAPE President Jerry Earle.

St. John's, NL (10 Aug. 2015) — In the wake of the high-profile death last week of a paramedic in St. John's, NL, the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) is calling for more mental health supports in the field.

“It’s a job where you go in and you have no idea that morning, that night, when you go to work, what type of call you’re going to receive or what you’re going to be involved in,” NAPE President Jerry Earle told the St. John's Telegram. “It’s extremely stressful.

Getting help can be difficult

A former paramedic himself, Earle says the stress of the job can easily overtake workers' lives. "You shouldn’t take work home, but it’s one of those jobs where there’s no way to walk away from it totally.”

Earle said it’s difficult for some people to get help, even if help is available.

“Some even believe it’s a sign of weakness if you’re having stress at work,” he said. “I know, going back to my days as a paramedic, it was a thing that, well, you wouldn’t talk about it. You’d try to deal with it yourself the best you could.

Help is coming, slowly

Earle says things are improving, but slowly.

"Today, supports are developing, but it’s an area that I still believe there has to be significant work done, said Earle. "There have to be mechanisms for co-workers, if they recognize signs or symptoms of any kind of stress, that they can follow through within workplaces.”

A candlelight vigil was held last week for the paramedic who died. It was well attended by friends and family within the paramedic industry, as well as by members of other high-stress public service professions, such as firefighters and police officers.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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