Oshawa Fire Services Chief Derrick Clark recognized as a Mental Health Champion

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Published December 9, 2021 at 4:09 pm

Photo Colin Williamson

Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark was one of 20 winners and the only Fire Chief to be recognized as a Champion of Mental Health, a national award presented by the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment.

Clark was selected from more than 200 nominees across Canada for the award which recognizes public safety personnel who are passionate and committed leaders supporting mental health and well-being in their organizations.

A 35-year veteran of Oshawa Fire Services, Clark was appointed Fire Chief in 2017. As a firefighter, Chief Clark experienced trauma firsthand and credits those experiences with helping him understand the scope of mental health issues faced by his fellow first responders.

 

A belief in peer support and creating safe spaces for people to talk about their mental health has led to partnerships with local organizations such as the Durham Region Critical Incident Stress Support Team and Wounded Warriors, expanding access to mental health services such as one-on-one peer support, defuses and debriefs, workshops, retreats and counselling for Oshawa Fire Services staff.

Clark knows that for improvements to be made in the ability to access mental health supports, leaders must play a central role in establishing programs and supports for their employees.

“I’m proud to receive this award on behalf of all our staff. Our Senior Leadership Team and support staff are ‘Champions of Mental Health,’ Clark said after receiving the award. “Our focus at Oshawa Fire Services is to promote openness and make sure staff know they don’t have to struggle in silence (and to) look after their mental health and wellness.”

To be considered a Champion of Mental Health, nominees were evaluated based on their impact on mental health in their organization and community; willingness to speak about their mental health journey; creation of innovative mental health resources and initiatives; and commitment to decreasing mental health stigma.

“We are extremely proud to celebrate this significant achievement with Chief Clark,” says Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter. “Being the first Fire Chief in Canada to receive this award is a great honour that recognizes his commitment to the mental health of his fellow first responders and ending the stigma associated with occupational stress injuries. Derrick is a true mental health champion in every sense of the word, and we congratulate him and thank him for his incredible service to our city.”

For information about Oshawa Fire Services, visit Oshawa.ca/Fire and follow “OshawaCity” on Facebook and @OshawaFire on Twitter.

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