Todd Doherty hopes Canadians will be taking part a national Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness day this summer.
On Jan. 30, the Cariboo-Prince George MP tabled a new Private Members Bill, Bill C-425, to establish June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day.
“It follows our partners to the south of us in the United States,” Doherty said in a phone call from Ottawa. “In 2010, the U.S. adopted June 27 at National PTSD Awareness Day. Four years later, in 2014, they adopted the whole month of June as PTSD Awareness Month.”
For Doherty, establishing a National PTSD Awareness Day is an important step in reducing the stigma around PTSD and mental injuries and illnesses.
“We know education and awareness is the only way to hopefully break the stigma of PTSD and mental illness or mental injury,” he said. “I use Paul and Terry Nichols [from Kersley] as an example — they rode their horses across Canada to help shed light on PTSD, so we need to do whatever we can to build that awareness and have that conversation.”
Members of the military can often end up with PTSD. The brave men and women who serve our country and our citizens often endure life-altering events that leave them with deep emotional and psychological scars, noted Doherty.
“They serve with courage and distinction, but their service often means they are left to deal with haunting images, sounds and smells for a lifetime,” he said.
Doherty tabled his new bill on Jan. 30, which is Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada, which aims to move mental health forward in Canada fighting the stigma, improving access to care, supporting world-class research and leading by example in workplace mental health. As of Thursday morning, Bell Let’s Talk Day had raised $7,272,134.95 to provide grants in 2019.
“Today, on Bell Let’s Talk Day, parliamentarians will join Canadians across the country to increase awareness of mental health issues and offer our support to those who persevere every day and work to end the stigma around mental illness,” Doherty said in a statement issued Jan. 30. “I couldn’t think of a better day to introduce my Private Members Bill, which seeks to make June 27th a National PTSD Awareness Day.”
Bill C-425 builds off of the Private Members Bill Doherty worked to pass last year, Bill C-211, an act that requires the government to develop a comprehensive federal framework to address the challenges of recognizing the symptoms and providing timely diagnosis and treatment of PTSD.
“Mental illness should not be a partisan issue,” said Doherty. “I sincerely hope that all parliamentarians vote to unanimously to pass this bill. Conservatives will continue to stand up for those who have served Canada and their communities and who as a result suffer from PTSD. We will continue to call on the Trudeau government to put politics aside and move swiftly to recognize PTSD sufferers in Canada.”
Now that Bill C-425 has been tabled, the hard work begins, says Doherty.
“Our hopes are now we will start the hard work of working with our friends across the way and all parties so we can get this bill swiftly based in the House and hopefully Canadians across this nation will be taking part in the first National PTSD Awareness Day this June,” he said.
“We must do everything to break the stigma through conversation, building trust, ensuring those who are suffering silently have the confidence to come forward, that they believe they will be listened to and that we have the tools and resources to make them well.”