Colonel Richard Jolette says the image of mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has dramatically changed in the past decade.
"Now we are more aware that people do need help and we take steps to provide that help," stated Col. Jolette.
"Before it was more,'ah just tough it out, you can take it,' it was maybe a sign of weakness and I think that is what the attitude was several years ago but now we are more aware that people do need help, we have the resources to help them and we help them through it."
Colonel Jolette was amongst more than 35 personnel at 22 Wing North Bay to take part in the Bell Let’s Talk Day Flag Raising Ceremony Wednesday morning at the base.
Bell Let’s Talk Day is important to members of 22 Wing North Bay as it is yet another opportunity to talk about mental health, to pass on resources about mental health, and eliminate the stigma associated with mental illnesses.
Colonel Richard Jolette, 22 Wing commander at CFB North Bay, believes it is critical to recognize mental health because it is really important all year long.
"Because of the nature of our job supporting NORAD mission, it is a 24/7 mission and that is hard on people sometimes," he said.
"Working shift work during the day or nighttime away from their families, they miss family events, sporting events so sometimes there is a toll on our people and it is important that we see the signs that they need help and that we give them the help that they need."
Captain Henry Hoy,22 Wing Sentinel Chaplain, oversees the Sentinel Program which has been put in place to bring more awareness to mental health on the base.
The Sentinel Program aims to develop a group of trained, supervised non-professionals whose purpose is to improve human contact through a set of behaviours and attitudes they use with their peers.
"We train and manage the Sentinels on the Wing here, We have about 45 on the Wing," stated Capt. Hoy.
"It is a group of volunteers endorsed by the chain of command and trained at the Chaplin office. They are trained in active listening and help detect the signs of distress and as needed recommend the appropriate professional resources for them. The intent is to promote the awareness of the available resources and preventative tools on the Wing."
The bottom line is with all the awareness out there,
Hoy and Jolette hope days like Bell Let's Talk and the Sentinel Program will help break the stigma.