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Veteran who helps trauma sufferers agrees with Ontario’s plan to treat PTSD

Brendon Abram's holds his classes Sunday mornings in the studio above the Grind coffee shop on 45 Front st. Photo courtesy of getyoga.ca

Military veteran Brendon Abram of Trenton teaches yoga classes that help people who have suffered trauma. Photo courtesy of getyoga.ca

By Taylor Broderick [1]

BELLEVILLE – After 30 years in the military, a veteran in Trenton has found a relaxing solution to help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder [2].

Brendon Abram fought for the Canadian Forces and served with the United Nations and NATO [3] in El Salvador and Bosnia. For over two years he has been teaching a form of yoga that helps veterans and first responders cope with the aftershocks of trauma they face in the workplace.

“There’s a lot of evidence that suggests just practising these mindful (exercises) really helps alleviate the symptoms associated with trauma,” he said.

Abram told QNet News this week that he is pleased with a plan by the provincial government to provide first responders suffering from PTSD with more support.

On Monday, Ontario’s Minister of Labour [4] announced a four-part plan to help reduce the effects of PTSD in first responders such as police officers, firefighters and paramedics.

The plan will include:

Laura Kobsa, a senior policy advisor at the ministry, said the strategy won’t just help first responders, but their family and friends who see their loved one suffering from the disorder.

“There’s still a lot of stigma related to mental health in general,” Kobsa said. “Part of why we want to have the (public) campaign going forward is to help with stigma reduction.”

So far the response to the province’s strategy to fight PTSD has been positive, she said.

Abram says he thinks it’s wonderful to see the government taking an interest in the disorder.

“It starts at the top. The fact that our senior politicians and leaders are willing to say, ‘Yes, this is a condition that needs to be addressed’ – I think is very positive,” he said.

The first step to stop the stigma of PTSD is to talk about it, he added.

“Awareness is obviously a big part of the solution. A lot of people focus on that word ‘trauma,’ but the actual disorder is stress-related.”

It’s important to get across the message that PTSD is an illness, and not something someone did to themselves – that it happened because of circumstances beyond the person’s control, Abram said.

Cory MacKay, Belleville’s chief of police [5], says PTSD is something that has an impact on all emergency services.

“It’s a mental-wellness issue that is very individual and it impacts different members at different times in varying degrees,” MacKay said.

Abram had a suggestion for how people should think about PTSD.

“It’s an injury. ‘Trauma’ means injury,” he said. “Everybody is very accepting of physical trauma – it happens and we treat it without stigma. Well, this is a trauma that has happened to the mind.”

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