Battling suicidal thoughts due to trauma he experienced in his work environment, is a mental-health crisis former first responder, Sean Conohan, knows all too well.
“Things started to deteriorate and my mental health started to slip and I started to isolate myself and disengage from family and friends,” Conohan said.
It’s the reason Conohan created a podcast in 2016 called UpTalk.
He has used it as a way to educate himself about the realities of PTSD in his field and spread awareness of the issue to others dealing with the darkness he has.
This week, his work is being rewarded on a national level.
He’s been selected by the Tema Conter Memorial Trust to receive a “media award” for the podcast he’s created to break down the stigma around mental health.
Conohan spent many years working as a paramedic and volunteer firefighter.
It was a field he pursued with vigorous passion, until a series of calls left him feeling trapped in despair.
“I’ve been in that dark place, contemplating whether I should still be here or not. Luckily for me, I snapped out of it and went on and powered my way through it using the tools that I’ve learned through my podcast, from my guests,” he said.
Along with the national recognition, Conohan is also joining forces with Tema Conter Memorial Trust to bring more attention to the podcast by rebranding it as Tema Talks.
He’ll also be working with their team to reach more people.
“Everything will be the same — same chats, same format but it will be under a new banner,” Conohan said.
WATCH: PTSD among first responders
According to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust Foundation, 56 Canadian first responders committed suicide in 2017.
This year, that number has already hit two.
It’s an alarming statistic that unfortunately doesn’t come as a surprise to the Nova Scotia medical director for Emergency Health Services.
“I think one of the major issues is that first responders are practising in an uncontrolled environment and they’re trying to save people’s lives and unfortunately, those events and those scenarios and the environments that they’re working in, I think is what can add to people developing a full spectrum of impairments to their mental health,” Dr. Andrew Travers said.