New digital tool helps evaluate stress and anxiety in first responders providing additional support in wildfire recovery.
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is kicking off Mental Health Week, which runs from May 1-7, 2017, by partnering with Imperial and the Fort McMurray Public School District (FMPSD) to support the mental health of first responders. It has been one year since the Alberta wildfires and the Regional Emergency Services department has faced many challenges. Heart Math will now be used as an additional tool to support first responder’s mental resilience in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
CMHA Mental Health Week is a national awareness campaign to encourage all Canadians to reflect on their own attitudes towards mental health. Reducing discrimination and stigma is paramount, so that people no longer feel shame due to a mental illness and will no longer wait to seek the support and help they need. The campaign offers Canadians practical ways to maintain and improve their mental health.
Heart Math has helped FMPSD students lower their stress and anxiety levels by doing simple breathing exercises. By using sensors to read their heart beat, children learn how to self-regulate, moving them from the red zone into the green zone. By connecting body and mind through breath, children have the power to self-regulate in times of stress and anxiety. Lowered stress and anxiety levels can lead to:
- Higher productivity, greater learning capacity, and better decision making
- Greater resilience and coping skills
- Reduce stress related to self-defeating habits and trauma
- Increased feelings of safety, nurturing and self-acceptance
“FMPSD has been very fortunate to have Imperial Oil and Canadian Mental Health support Heart Math program in four of our schools. Teacher training for this program has been provided by Alberta Health Services. The Heart Math program has given teachers and students the capacity to monitor their anxiety levels and develop strategies to regulate in times of high stress”, said Shannon Noble, Assistant Superintendent – Inclusive Education, FMPSD.
“Resources for mental health are critical to ongoing efforts to rebuild in Fort McMurray,” said Shelley Larose, Imperial Stakeholder Relations Lead for the Athabasca region. “This need is often felt acutely among first responders and Imperial is pleased to see a growing number of people in the community benefit from the Heart Math tool.”
“The mental health and wellbeing of our first responders is of the utmost importance,” said Deputy Chief Brad Grainger. “The participation of Regional Emergency Services in Heart Math will provide our firefighters with more tools and information to support their wellbeing during incident response.”