Mental health and the impact it can have in the operational environment took centre stage at a recent professional development session held by the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers, on November 03, 2017 at the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre in Toronto.
Conducted in partnership with the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall and Emergency Management (OFMEM), the session entitled “Mental Health in the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) – What you need to know as an industry leading emergency manager” was the first in a professional development series launched by the OAEM in September with the goal of providing proactive and practical strategies for supporting mental health in the EOC.
According to Dr. Lori Gray, a clinical, forensic, and rehabilitation psychologist who focuses on the issue of trauma through her work with first responders and a key note speaker at the development session, there were key takeaways which would allow attendees to strengthen their emergency management programs in respect to mental health.
“While the field of workplace mental health has grown exponentially, recommendations have tended to focus more on traditional work,” Gray said during the presentation. “In contrast, the EOC presents unique demands and challenges in the application of those recommendations.”
Moving forward, the second event in the professional development series, scheduled to take place on 25 January 2018, will focus and review the best practices and lessons learned in crisis communications and reputation management. Jason Reid, OAEM’s Professional Development Director, believed the mental health session and the series itself further affirms the commitment of the volunteer organization in furthering the emergency management field.
“It’s truly remarkable how a group of volunteers made up of passionate professionals can have a positive impact on the professional development in Ontario’s Emergency Management Community,” said Jason Reid. “We have a unique opportunity and obligation to support emergency management professionals while connecting industry experts willing to share the good, and more importantly the bad. This shared information allows others to gain the strength of knowledge from both new practices and the lessons learned.”