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OPSEU raises awareness and funds for peer-to-peer support services on World Mental Health Day

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World Mental Health Day was a day of action for OPSEU members who toured northern Ontario to raise funds and awareness of the peer support groups Boots on the Ground and Badge of Life Canada.

Last week, OPSEU members in Region 6 embarked on the second leg of the “Peers Need Peers” fundraising barbecue tour for the two non-profit organizations. The tour landed in Sault Ste. Marie on October 10th, which also happens to be World Mental Health Day.

Boots on the Ground provides confidential, compassionate support to Ontario’s first responders and frontline workers who have had a traumatic experience while doing their jobs. Boots on the Ground is run by volunteers who have peer support and suicide prevention training and are available 24-7. Badge of Canada, meanwhile, provides resources and programs to help those recovering from traumatic events.

The Sault Ste. Marie barbecue had the backing of many community partners; including corrections and youth officers, Canadian Border Service guards, the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, OPSEU’s Disability Rights Caucus, Region 6 Executive Board Members Tara Maszczakiewicz, Ken Steinbrunner and Nat Rondeau, the Corrections MERC Team and Probation and Parole.

Speakers at the event included corrections officers James Kemp and OPSEU Health and Safety Rep Mike Lundy, who shared their personal and compelling stories about the traumatic experiences they have had and the anxiety, depression and isolation that often follows.

OPSEU Local 678 Vice President Tammy Roy presented Boots on the Ground with a cheque for $350, while even more funds were raised through the barbecue, raffle draws and other donations.

Other stops on the OPSEU “Peers Need Peers” fundraising barbecue tour last week included North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.  In July, members of OPSEU Region 7 did the first leg of the “Peers Need Peers” tour of communities in northwestern Ontario.

If you can benefit from Boots on the Ground’s peer-to-peer support services, please call 1-833-677-2668. If you are in crisis, call 911, your local crisis hotline or go to your nearest hospital.