Psychologists talk trauma after Ottawa bus crash

Many witnesses to last week’s fatal bus crash had a chance to address any emotional trauma at a special mental health seminar Tuesday night.

Royal hosts talk Tuesday night, says balance is important to recovery

The Royal mental health centre is reaching out to those affected by last week's bus-train crash. 2:36

Many witnesses to last week’s fatal bus crash had a chance to address any emotional trauma at a special mental health seminar Tuesday night.

The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre hosted the meeting for people struggling with the aftermath of the crash, which killed six people and injured more than 30 bus passengers.

Gregory Mech said he was on the second level of the double-decker bus when it crashed into a Via Rail passenger train near Fallowfield Station last Wednesday morning.

He said he’s getting back to his job as an IT manager for CBC and working shorter days after taking last week off.

“I’m not fully recovered mentally, but I’m back to work,” he said.

"It really hit home I guess when the victims were identified in person, that's when the full extent of the tragedy hit me quite hard."

Balance important to recovery

Dr. Luis Oliver, a clinical psychologist at the Royal, said it’s important to find balance when you’re dealing with a traumatic incident.

A makeshift memorial was created along the train tracks where the collision happened, near the intersection of Fallowfield Road and Woodroffe Avenue in Ottawa. (Kristy Kirkup/CBC)

"To pretend like nothing happened doesn't work for people, to numb out and deny what's going on,” he said. “On the other hand, to let it overpower you and take over your life isn't good either."

Mech said the last week has been an “emotional roller-coaster” but he’s starting to feel better. He said he’s trying to focus on the positive as he moves on.

"Compared to the others that have perished or were gravely injured, I'm very fortunate," he said.

"That's the one word that's in my brain now is fortunate."

Three psychologists, including Dr. Oliver, spoke at the Royal’s auditorium at 1145 Carling Ave. from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Dealing with trauma

The City of Ottawa has posted phone numbers to a number of places people can go to for help should they be in need of help after a traumatic event like the bus crash.

The Distress Centre answers calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with crisis line specialists providing confidential support. They can be reached at 613-238-3311.

The Mental Health Crisis Line answers calls for people ages 16 or older 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can reach the line at 613-722-6914.

Tel-Aide Outaouais offers French-language mental health telephone support from 8 a.m. to midnight every day. Ottawa residents can call 613-741-6433 and Gatineau residents can contact 819-775-3223.

The Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) provides confidential 24/7 phone and web counselling for children ages 20 and under.

The Youth Services Bureau (YSB) provides youth and family counselling, crisis support and a 24/7 crisis line at 613-260-2360.


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