What a blast! The Second National PTSD Awareness Day on Saturday attracted twice as many people as last year, and networking, credibility and profile of the disorder got a huge boost.
ACT emergency services and Defence sent some of their top people, and there were hundreds of members from SES, RFS and Defence in uniform flying the flag. Veterans, police – including the Police Post-Trauma Support Group from Wilberforce, volunteers and horses – fire brigade, Salvation Army and ordinary people swelled the ranks.
Around 1000 people listened to our speakers, spent time at the community stalls and emergency services/defence vehicles, listened to Loose Connections and Veterans Voices, and walked around the lake to ‘stomp out the stigma’ of PTSD.
Medical and political leaders used the occasion to call on Australians to learn to recognise the basic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
The Clinical Director of Acute Services in the ACT, Dr Len Lambeth, the Australian Minister for Veterans Affairs, Mr Alan Griffin, ACT Health Minister Ms Katy Gallagher, and the Acting Commander Joint Health, Australian Defence Force, Commodore Robyn Walker, urged ‘ordinary people’ to accept that PTSD is diagnosed in more than 1.4 million Australians in any one year.
It’s the message Picking Up The Peaces has been sending since we began. ‘Ordinary people’ – families, workmates and GPs, are best placed to see the changes wrought by trauma and push their loved ones to seek help.
Openly acknowledging PTSD – “It’s an illness, not a weakness,” Dr Lambeth said – will also help overcome the self-imposed stigma that prevents many people from seeking help.
The number of organisations who provided time, expertise, funds and contributions in kind was immense. In fact, the way the community got behind the Awareness Day, and the campaign, was inspiring. The need for this campaign and its value to the community, was underlined at every turn.
We’ll have photos available shortly, and video footage. In fact, we’ll also be able to reveal parts of an upcoming project with televised interviews shot during the event.
Attendees were also surveyed on their experience with PTSD. This is part of another project to gather hard data which will be used to further the campaign. If you have not already done so, click here and go complete the online version. Every response counts.
Organisers will now analyse what worked and what didn’t, with a view to templating the organisation required to stage such an event. That will be made available to people who already want to stage their own events in other states.
So if you have any suggestions on how to make the 3rd PTSD Awareness Day bigger, better and more effective, please let us know.