Interview with Many to One
SUBJECTS: BRENT AND RENEE
Beacon Rhetoric had the privilege of interviewing a part of the team at Many to One to discuss some of the challenges surrounding posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their instrumental efforts towards creating a global database and becoming an information resource for anyone impacted by PTSD.
Renee Mair is the Founder and CEO of Many to One and Brent Lucas is the Fundraising and Marketing manager of Many to One.
What is PTSD?
B: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that manifests itself in a host of different and vastly varied symptoms. For the families and people impacted by this, the effects are deeply personal. People have really become open about its existence only in recent years.
R: It is an injury like any other broken toe, arm or foot. What makes it difficult to diagnose and treat is how invisible the injury can be. It is hard to fix something you cannot see and when you do not heal something as soon as possible, the scars are more embedded and last forever. PTSD is an invisible scar and that is just one of the reasons that make it such a necessary cause to support and help.
1) What was the personal journey that brought you to founding Many to One?
B: I have served four years in infantry reserve and participating in the airsoft community has allowed me to continue interacting with many individuals in high-risk occupations. I have also had first hand personal experience receiving help from these strong and giving individuals. When I was a child, there was a fire at my home and I benefitted from the fire fighters in my community. They have helped me in my personal life and I hope that I can give back to them and help them get better. Three years ago, six of my personal friends became open that they were and had been suffering from PTSD. We knew we needed to contribute one way or another.
R: We had a great deal of mutual friends, and were fully aware of what PTSD was and how it potentially could look like. The surprise of not knowing right away considering the proximity we were to them was almost incredible. One of my very first jobs was at a non-profit and it was my favourite job. Though I have a full-time 9-5 career, my vacations, weekends and any extra time I have are strictly devoted to Many to One.
2) How did you initially try to raise awareness about PTSD?
R: Over the past three years, we had participated fully with other established charities to help in any way we could. We had started Many to One as a not-for-profit and we realized we needed a focus to become truly effective. We realized there was a need and took all the steps to become a registered Canadian charity. I have always wanted to give back and this cause pulled me back into that mindset and I have not stopped since.
3) Have you found any partners to work in conjunction with that are motivated to create a similar impact?
B: With Renee’s non-profit background, we have had the opportunity to work closely with many others. The first two years, we worked closely with many established charities and learned a lot about how to focus our actions and efforts to make a difference. I have always worked in information technology and all our directors are firefighters. The connections we have to the community has been an asset but our experiences and kinship have been most valued in understanding the need and shortfalls. There is a big network out there and though there were many resources, they were often hard to find and we wanted to fill what we felt was the void. Many to One is open to working with partners and we are all committed to making a positive impact in any way possible.
4) Are there specific roles that you feel are more at risk of suffering from PTSD? What specific person is Many To One is trying to help?
R: Though we do specify, our database is meant to help military personnel, EMS, and law enforcement; we recognize that PTSD can affect anyone. There is also a great deal of crossover in these roles. Many people who come back from serving in the military will seek out these roles because ultimately they have the unique skillset and also want to help and protect people.
B: PTSD can happen in any high-risk occupations. There is a large community out there but the help we are trying to get to these individuals are very much overshadowed by the help they are giving to us.
R: The information we have gathered and continue to seek will help anyone that may interact with someone suffering from PTSD in any situation: such as a partner, children or superior officer.
B: Any business that wants to learn about ways they can build a positive environment conducive to healing and discussion, there are programs out there available.
5) How would anyone show signs they are suffering from PTSD?
B: The very first change is a change in behavior. What makes PTSD so difficult to diagnose is the range of symptoms. They are not always evident and this could be any type of change. Often people only notice others being sad though it is far more multi-faceted than just that. Some people are driven by adrenaline and they seek that same adrenaline constantly. They sometimes achieve this by putting themselves in situations where they feel like they are in combat in the hopes of filling a void within. This could become extremely dangerous.
R: It could be extreme fluctuations of appetite. Some people may eat a lot or have absolutely no appetite. PTSD is so buried and there are multiple symptoms.
6) Aside from the stigma, what do you think is the biggest obstacle to proper treatment?
B: The majority of people are self-diagnosed. People do seek help sometimes and are often diagnosed with depression* first and sometimes ADHD* or OCD* and eventually double back to the correct diagnosis. This cycle back could take up to ten years and for someone suffering, it can feel like an eternity.
R: This is the biggest hurdle and PTSD is not like a broken bone. It cannot be easily seen and there is no quick fix. It is not curable either. Though it can be managed and people can get better.
7) Do you find people who have left the workforce more susceptible to this or do we have active first responders and firefighters who are suffering from PTSD?
R: It does not onset right away and though leaving the workforce could be a trigger, it could happen seven years after people retire. There are some first responders who have been dealing with it daily even when on the job. It is easier for people to open up and admit to having a problem when they are away from the workplace. That is because they are aware they are needed for a job and would never want to seem anything less than 100%. We are hoping to see a shift, once they leave isolation though.
B: There is peer group pressure and it could be perceived as a sign of weakness. We are looking at institutions with so much history and this is a part of their organizational culture. Though the stigma is going away, culture changes take time. I have had experience supporting fire department and their training and the biggest hurdle to change is the culture of retaining what works and what is the status quo.
R: Transition can take a lot of time and it could take one person up to two years to get help. Unfortunately, two years can feel like an eternity. There is an increased wealth and availability of resources and we are moving in the right direction.
B: There are pressures among the upper level and budget confinements could be a factor. First responders are always necessary to keep people safe and it could definitely influence how open management is to the issue in front of them.
8) What are some unexpected factors in managing PTSD?
R: Sometimes it is a business decision. The fire department has a union and they will find help for you because you are the financial investment.
B: The family situation and resources are impacted. Everyone must constantly be walking on eggshells and that is only one aspect of this injury. For example, you could become hyper vigilant. Military personnel’s training is very much about physical protection. So how this may appear is checking all the lights in the household and locking all the doors. Their partner may take out the garbage and instantly upset them because of this. Children must also be hyper vigilant and that is not the childhood or lifestyle they should have.
R: Often, we neglect secondary PTSD that befalls on the partner. It is a huge emotional burden and neither are equipped to deal with this. Military has a bit more preparation but the support for first responders are severely lacking.
One of the best charities devoted to supporting their needs is TEMA CONTER http://www.tema.ca.
9) How has Internet impacted those with PTSD and how they can receive help and treatment?
R: It gives a certain sense of anonymity and allows people to speak openly. Through an email, people can use their real name or withhold it and simply tell people their story. It may sometimes feel like someone is completely alone and it makes a world of difference when people come to realize that they are far from it. It is also a wonderful resource. There are many online support groups and information is just a click away. The first step for anyone suffering is to acknowledge it and the next step is seeking help. These support groups are effective because they may have gotten help or have information about treatments that have worked and helped them or resources that have done the same.
10) How as the Internet and digital media age impacted your efforts?
B: The Internet has been a revolutionary step. It has changed the environment in which we can carry out these efforts. The worldwide web has allowed us the opportunity to achieve more with less. It has freed us from having a physical office, which would cost an immense overhead. We fundraise online and our media efforts are digital.
11) We know now that Renee’s non-profit background has influenced her contribution to Many to One. How have your experiences changed what you contribute to this effort?
B: My filmmaking background used to be a hobby but Many to One has absolutely allowed me to get back in the mode of picking emotional and very important topics and capture it in a way that tells the heart of the story.
We will be releasing our next web series and the theme is Scars – invisible scars. It will be another set of awareness videos about PTSD. http://www.many-2-one.org/2226-2/
12) What is your current focus?
Our focus at this moment is raising the necessary funds to bring the database live. Our campaign #HelpTheyDeserve intends on raising $25,000. If we are unable to achieve this, we will still find a way. Many to One will actively find support for people learning to deal with PTSD. It would just help so many more people if we are able to get that first and most important push to build some strong foundation for Many to One. Once we gain momentum, I am confident there are enough people out there who are willing to pitch in to help.
13) What has Many to One focused their efforts towards and how can we help?
B: Our first step is to create this database and our financial goal is $25,000. Our next step is securing a long-term contributor to support the ongoing capital cost. Part of securing this partner is about achieving our first mission. We are confident that when we have launched the database, it will simply help our branding and give us the exposure to show potential partners the type of influence and positive impact we are looking to achieve. The commitment we are seeking is a five year commitment at 100-150k annually.
R: Our focus is currently in Canada and the United States but the scope of our efforts is meant to be global. We are absolutely keen on expanding. However, the restrictions surrounding Canadian charities can be limiting and we have elected to focus on just Canada and the U.S. at this time. Later on, if we are able to work with international partners who use our branding, it would be an amazing opportunity to help more people.
14) Tell us about the message behind your current campaign? #TheHelpTheyDeserve
B: They take chances. They put their lives on the line and they put their heart out there daily.
R: Financial funding is critical for our efforts. Anyone who would like more information, can find resources on our official website and on Facebook. One of our core missions are to help share information, so please message us if there is anything you can send our way.
Phase One Project http://www.many-2-one.org/fundrazr/ #TheHelpTheyDeserve
15) What would be the ideal situation in the effort for PTSD?
B: For military, first responders, fire – if you are doing your job, you will see terrible things but in the ideal world, the concept of PTSD will be introduced on the very first day of training so people can prepare for it and accept it, not as an exception, but as the norm.
R: With the creation of the database, our hopes are to share information. At this time, it takes simply too long to find help. This can be extremely frustrating. There are so many obstacles and we intend on removing all barriers. We hope to give people options at the click of a button. PTSD has a crippling influence.
16) Is there something you would advise the family members learning to make this a part of their lives?
B: Remember it is not who they are, but what they do and what happened to them. It really is an injury. It is like any broken limb and unfortunately it is not curable. They can get better. Do not lose sight of who they are because they are still in there.
R: I would say that for the spouse in particular, do not take it personally. A lot of times (the spouse) feel it is something they may have caused or are not doing enough. Do not be afraid to ask for help because there are people out there that care. Secondary PTSD is very common and you have to do more in the household. All while trying to maintain balance and calm. This can be exhausting. You need support too.
17) If you could say just one nutshell comment to those suffering from PTSD, what would it be?
R: Speak up and educate yourself.
B: We won’t stop until we get you the help.
Original Interview took place March 31 2015 in Toronto, Canada
Depression: can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour and sense of well-being. A mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood.
ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a developmental neuropsychiatric disorder in which an individual has significant problems with executive functions that cause attention deficits.
OCD: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterize by intrusive thoughts that manifest as uneasiness, apprehension, and fear or worry aimed at reducing the associated anxiety
Many To One is a registered Canadian charity whose goals include developing a centralized online hub of PTSD resources, promoting PTSD awareness in the community and working with established organizations to support our heroes in the military, police, fire and EMS sectors.
Our Mission: To become an online conduit of PTSD resources world-wide, connecting people to the help they need.
Awareness, education and training are the main tools used to combat and prevent PTSD. Our mandate is to build an Online PTSD Learning Management System to guide those who have PTSD and supporting family members to treatment options and to develop training tools which can be utilized by front line workers in at-risk occupations.
Many To One is committed to simplifying the process of finding PTSD resources. It can be a challenge at the best of times to find information on the internet, but when you are already battling PTSD or you are struggling to support a loved one, this challenge can seem overwhelming.
Many To One is dedicated to creating an online directory of PTSD resources, thus providing a centralized base of information and educational tools. We recognized that the programs already existed globally but we needed to make it easier for individuals and family members to find these resources both quickly and easily.
For More Information please visit http://www.many-2-one.org/about/
Further Media inquiries please visit http://www.many-2-one.org/contact/