According to the BC Military Family Resource Centre (BCMFRC), military service can be straining on one’s mental health, and they aim to help those in need.
Over the weekend of October 19 and 20, 2019 the BCMFRC will be hosting a two-day mental health first aid training course at the Prestige Rockey Mountain Resort in Cranbrook.
British Army veteran Capt. Jim Billinger has attended the course in the past and feels that the training helped him with his mental health.
“It provided me with a reinforced understanding of how mental health manifests itself, and how it is particularly a concern in a military service environment,” said Billinger. “It really helped me transition from my own military service into civilian life.”
Billinger served with the British Army for over 20 years, travelling around the world, including Germany, Asia, and Northern Ireland.
Billinger has since retired from the military and moved to Canada, where he works as commissionaire ambassador for Commissionaires BC, a security company that is primarily made up of former military and RCMP members.
“I’ve been to the Kootenay area a number of times as part of my role. We have Commissionaires, often many veterans, in the area,” Billinger said. “I’m really happy to see the BCMFRC are able to offer this course to people that would really benefit from it. It’s reducing the stigma around mental health, and assuring those that are suffering that help is available.”
Another person involved in bringing the training to Cranbrook is Tracy Cromwell, executive director of Mainland BCMFRC.
Cromwell also took the course and feels it’s beneficial not just to veterans, but to their friends and family as well.
“It’s something that goes on, not just with one person, but with all the people that support that veteran as they transition to post-service life,” Cromwell said.
Cromwell added that this training is similar to traditional first aid courses, but with a focus on mental health instead.
“The same way that a lot of us would have some kind of idea what to do if we came across someone with a broken arm or might be bleeding,” Cromwell explained to MyEastKootenayNow.com. “This course aims to give us the same kind of confidence or ability to help somebody that might be having some kind of mental health issue.”
Cromwell added that the goal is to teach people skills they may use to help someone in a mental health crisis.
“Not that I didn’t want to help, I was always afraid I might do the wrong thing, so it gave me the confidence to be able to talk to people more openly. Far worse than doing the wrong thing, would be to do nothing,” said Cromwell
Registration for the event can be found here.