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Around 400 first responders have gathered in Richmond this week for a conference to talk about the mental health of police officers, firefighters and ambulance paramedics. It’s the first BC-based conference of its kind. The hope is to get the message out and break the stigma regarding mental illness.

Merritt RCMP's Lorne Wood spoke with Q101 News about the importance of mental health in such a demanding field and the stigma that surrounds it.

“It’s a huge thing, especially with all first responders. Years and years of going to traumatic incidents”, said Wood. “It is historically not talked about, but it’s getting better.”

Wood has also taken the initiative to hold a workshop of his own here in Merritt with fellow officers.

“I held a mental health workshop for police officers recently in the area,” stated Wood. “Hopefully in years to come I’ll expand it, make it bigger. And if possible open it up to other first responders in the area, not just police officers.”

Mental health doesn't just effect those in high stress professions but everybody. One in every five Canadians will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lifetime.

Today is Bell lets talk day, so five cents from every call and text from a bell device, and from any tweet with the hashtag bell lets talk will go towards fighting mental illness and helping to break the stigma.

Last year nearly 7 million dollars was raised.

#BellLetsTalk

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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