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Tyee Story on First Responders and PTSD Finalist for National Award

Report set out challenges, barriers keeping firefighters, paramedics and police from needed support.

By Tyee Staff 27 Mar 2017 | TheTyee.ca

The Tyee is one of five finalists for the first Mindset Award for Workplace Mental Health Reporting.

Reporter David P. Ball was recognized for “They Keep us Safe, but Stigma is Killing Firefighters, Paramedics and Cops,” an in-depth look at the impact of PTSD and other mental and emotional illnesses on first responders.

The article shared the stories of first responders struggling to get help with work-related mental illnesses — and some who had taken their own lives. It was supported with statistics and an analysis of the changes needed, legal and in attitudes, to combat the epidemic.

“It was a powerful, important story that needed to be told,” said Tyee editor Robyn Smith. “Every worker deserves to be safe on the job, and supported when health problems arise — and mental health problems should be no different.”

Ball said the finalists for the award all showed the importance of investigative journalism.

“I’m humbled to have my reporting for The Tyee nominated for the Mindset award alongside some of the great journalists at the Toronto Star, Postmedia, CBC and the Globe and Mail,” Ball said. “At a time when we’re seeing devastating cuts to some of Postmedia’s best reporters, it’s a reminder that investigative, quality journalism needs resources and support.”

Postmedia laid off 54 people at the Vancouver Sun and Province Friday, including 29 in the newsroom.

“I’m especially heartened to see a growing body of reporting about Canada’s mental health crisis — on our streets, in our workplaces and among our emergency responders and soldiers,” he said. “I hope it makes a difference and reduces social stigma on the topic.”

Ball, who wrote the story as a staff writer for The Tyee, is now with Vancouver Metro.

The award, sponsored by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, attracted “a remarkable field of entries from media organizations large and small and from individual journalists across the country,” said forum president Cliff Lonsdale.

The other finalists are:

CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, for Rosemary Barton’s interview with MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes about her depression;

The Globe and Mail, for its series about suicide among Afghan war veterans, reported by Renata D'Aliesio, Les Perreaux and Allan Maki;

The Ottawa Citizen for a series on mental stress affecting whistleblowers, reported by Don Butler; and

The Toronto Star, for a story about the death by suicide of Const. Darius Garda, reported by Wendy Gillis.

The winner will be announced April 29 at the awards gala of the Canadian Association of Journalists in Ottawa. It includes a $1,000 prize.  [Tyee]

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