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Celebrating One Year of Peterborough’s Gateway

To honor the first anniversary of bringing evidence-based treatment to first responders, military service members, and veterans at EHN Canada’s Gateway facility in Peterborough, Ontario, we talked to Clinical Team Lead Adrienne Martens and Managing Director Shawn Carter about the unique struggles of this community, their passion for addiction and mental health recovery, and plans for the future.

“Healing is actually possible,” says Shawn Carter, Gateway Recovery Centre’s Managing Director, “which sounds like a very cliche therapist thing for me to say, but in many ways PTSD 20 years ago, 30 years ago was a life sentence.”

For military service members, veterans, and first responders, that’s no longer the case, due in part to the work that Carter and others like him are doing at Gateway, the EHN Canada facility celebrating one year since opening their doors last summer.

UNIQUE CAREERS MEAN UNIQUE ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES

Why is a dedicated facility for military, veterans and first responders so essential? While we all may face challenges when we go to work – difficult bosses, impossible timelines, endless overtime – what the average person experiences each day cannot compare to what first responders and military service members experience.

Life and death decisions are simply another day on the job, but the stoicism required to do it often leads to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD), Operational Stress Injury (OSI), moral injury, and substance abuse. It’s why creating Gateway, a facility dedicated to treating trauma and addiction in military, veterans, and first responders, was so important for EHN Canada.

Adrienne Martens, Gateway’s Clinical Team Lead, and licensed Social Worker, explains, “When you’re in a military or first responder role, your day at work looks very different than most people in your life. You’re dealing with things and facing things that other people in your life don’t face. So, there could be this pretty significant ‘othering’ that happens – us and civilians. It can feel very isolating and very scary and feeling like ‘people in my life don’t understand me.’”

WHY MILITARY, VETERANS AND FIRST RESPONDERS FACE BARRIERS TO SEEKING TREATMENT

Compounding the effects of mental health disorders and addiction is the fact that many in these fields often need to turn off their emotions in order to get the job done.

“In a lot of those groups, they’re actually taught to ignore some of those symptoms [of mental health disorders],” Martens explains. “Often it’s with good intention – that in the moment that stoicism may actually save someone’s life, but where there’s clearly a gap is being able to recognize that, after those events happen that, you are human and those things that you’re feeling are valid and those aren’t to be things to be pushed down and ignored.”

Add to that both internal feelings of not wanting to admit to any perceived weakness and external stigma or fear of coming forward: “When you’re in the helping profession,” Martens says, “there’s this idea of you are tougher than most people. You are facing things that most people don’t have the ability to face. You are the person who’s supposed to step in and help other people. That is your job, and you’re going to do that job. So that kind of societal stigma about mental health and then an additional layer of ‘you are the helper,’ so you don’t step back to get help.”

ONE YEAR OF MILESTONES

On July 16, 2021, Gateway Recovery Centre, part of EHN Canada’s network of Canada-wide facilities, opened its doors to its first cohort of patients, in a serene area of Peterborough, Ontario. The intention: creating a safe space for those in these professions to share their experiences and feeling openly and honesty, without fear of judgement.

Carter says, “I think one of the benefits of having a very specific space carved out for these populations is that we’re starting off by saying, we know that taking a step into treatment is really scary regardless. And we want you to know that this space is dedicated for you.

“What we find is that when people get here, there is such a strong sense of mutual respect and support that creates a sense of solidarity and safety that might make it more likely for someone to come in and say, I know that I’m attending a program that is specifically designed to help folks in these professions in very specific and evidence-based ways.”

Carter adds, “We had one client say that your first and last days will be the hardest. And I think that’s a huge testament to kind of the trust and safety that they feel in our environment.”

For both Carter and Martens, seeing firsthand the impact that Gateway’s uniquely personal approach to treatment has on patients has been a career highlight.

“It’s as if you can tell we’re passionate about this or something,” Carter laughs. “I’ve worked in many mental health settings as both a frontline clinician and as a leader, where sometimes you see someone for a very short period of time and you don’t get to see that full transformation. So, at Gateway to get to see someone from the first day they arrive until the day that they leave is so rewarding and inspirational..”

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE OF TRAUMA AND ADDICTION TREATMENT FOR FIRST RESPONDERS

What’s next for Gateway in the near future? Their current treatment offerings are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to helping this community heal.

Carter says, “I think we’ve recognized that while many first responders, military, veterans and healthcare workers struggle with trauma and or addictions, that there’s a whole host of other mental health challenges that these professions face. So, we’re looking forward to launching a Mood and Anxiety Program specifically, for people who don’t necessarily have a PTSD diagnosis, maybe don’t even have an addiction, but that are really struggling with severe symptoms of depression or anxiety, as well as programs dedicated to operational or workplace sexualtrauma as well.”

And Marten adds, “We want more people to come. We can help more people.”

MORE ABOUT GATEWAY RECOVERY CENTRE

Gateway is Ontario’s Premier Facility for Military, Veterans, and First Responders. We’re constantly updating our program offerings to provide our patients with the most up-to-date, medically accurate treatments. That’s what makes Gateway the best treatment facility in Eastern Canada for trauma and addiction.

At Gateway, we understand that your story is unique, and that you may benefit from being immersed in a community of like-minded peers. Not only will your trauma, and any accompanying substance use, be addressed in private sessions, but you’ll also be able to heal in a community of people who truly understand what you’re going through.

OUR SPACE

Set in tranquil Peterborough, Ontario, amidst rolling fields and green spaces allows you to truly focus on your treatment experience. We have both indoor and outdoor facilities to help you stay active, because recovery is both mental and physical.

OUR HISTORY

Gateway has a firmly rooted tradition in holistic treatment, meaning that we treat not only substance use, but any underlying trauma and mental health conditions that may contribute to it. As part of EHN Canada, Gateway’s staff has had a proud and lengthy history of helping military service members, veterans, first responders, and healthcare providers overcome their mental health challenges.

WSIB & TRILLIUM HEALTH PARTNERS’ FIRST RESPONDERS PILOT PROGRAM

A first of its kind in Ontario, this pilot program delivers an innovative and evidence-based mental health stepped-care model that includes intake triage, residential care (where indicated), and in-person and virtual outpatient treatment, together with return-to-work coordination, physical reactivation and Aftercare services tailored to first responders.

ENDORSED BY THE IAFF

EHN Canada is exclusively endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) as the preferred treatment provider for Canadian IAFF members. Members are given priority admissions to our existing Military, Veteran and First Responder programs, like we offer at Gateway Recovery Centre in Peterborough, Ontario.

ARE YOU A VETERAN, ACTIVE SERVICE MEMBER, OR FIRST RESPONDER STRUGGLING WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH OR SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER?

Please contact us at:

1-866-927-1905
Gateway Recovery Centre
2225 Lansdowne St West
Peterborough, ON
K9J 0G5
CANADA

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