Essex County challenges mental health

Paramedics and firefighters in Ontario’s Essex County have each received an “All In Coin” to promote discussions about mental health.

Combined with ongoing training, the innovative program aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health for emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. The coin – which is more accurately described as a token because it wasn’t issued by the government as currency and lacks a denomination – can be used anywhere and at any time. By presenting the “coin” – to either a colleague, friend or family member – someone can start a conversation on mental wellness.

“The first step is always the hardest – admitting you have a problem and asking for help,” said Bruce Krauter, Essex-Windsor EMS chief, who challenged other regional emergency services to participate.

“The ‘All In Coin’ makes it easier to take that all-important first step and simply possessing the coin will serve as a reminder to our members that they are not alone and that help is always available.”

Described as “a tactical tool to help kickstart important conversations,” the coin depicts a red maple leaf on one side and a buffalo on the other.

About 400 coins have been distributed to all Essex-Windsor EMS paramedics and staff plus another 85 to local firefighters.

Altogether, nearly 10,000 coins have been distributed to first responders in seven other countries since Project All In was launched by two Alberta firefighters in response to suicides last November.

The coin is also available online to purchase for $8.

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