We Are STIGMA aims to unite Emergency Responders and Soldiers in the fight against the personal, peer and organizational stigma of Occupational Stress Injuries (OSI’s) through the STIGMA pin campaign. Our brand “We Are S.T.I.G.M.A.”, means “We Are Standing Together Inspiring Greater Mental-health Awareness.”
We Are STIGMA is a grassroots informal peer support movement for front-line Emergency Responders, members of the military and their families, aimed at eradicating the issues created by the ever-prevalent stigma associated to (OSI’s). The stigma associated to these injuries often prevents Emergency Responders and Soldiers from coming forward to obtain preventative and reactive assistance for the inevitable injuries that result from traumatic professions.
While we are seeing First Responder Agencies and the Military making efforts to create organizational Peer Support Units, many of their employees dealing with OSI's have shown significant reticence in seeking their support, for fear of being stigmatized by their peers or employers. Whether they are correct in their beliefs or not doesn't really matter; if anyone fails to seek assistance due to such fears it is a significant problem. At We Are STIGMA, we believe there is a need for an informal peer support system to help those who would otherwise not approach their Peer Support Units. Our idea is simple: have a system of identifying peers who are friends and/or coworkers willing to help those in need. As it stands, many suffer in silence because they don't know who to trust - many are even afraid to approach friends as they don't know where these friends stand on the issue of OSI's. Friends and trusted peers wearing the We Are STIGMA pin are publicly announcing that they want to help. Unlike Peer Support Units, informal supporters have no requirement (real or perceived) to report their assistance to their agency/work organization; they are just there to talk and help their friends get the help they need.
The message of We Are STIGMA is simple: OSI’s are a normal and anticipated part of life in professions that are traumatic and anything but normal. Trauma, left unaddressed, can accumulate and transform into an OSI such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This can be life altering but doesn’t need to be life or career ending. With effective and timely intervention for Emergency Responders and Soldiers exposed to the traumatic events that can lead to OSI’s, it may be possible to prevent these mental injuries from morphing into more significant mental illnesses. Ultimately, with proper care and treatment, those suffering with these injuries can continue to serve the public and advance in their chosen essential service professions.
We Are STIGMA, through the STIGMA pin campaign, intends to raise awareness and support for our Emergency Responders and Soldiers. The STIGMA pin and logo represents Emergency Responders and Soldiers united in carrying the torch of hope and healing, breaking through the barrier of stigma.
You can launch a We Are STIGMA movement within your organization. It's a simple idea that can make a significant difference to your brothers and sisters in service. To learn how you can become involved with We Are STIGMA please contact us; we look forward to hearing from you. We encourage everyone to purchase our “We Are STIGMA” pin or other merchandise (as it becomes available) to show your support for the everyday heroes that help to make your towns, cities, province and nation a safer place.