Students of Westview School kicked off Mental Health Week by teaming up with First Responders to teach them about Heart Math.
Heart Math is a new digital tool that evaluates stress and anxiety in first responders to provide additional mental health support in the wildfire recovery.
By using sensors to read a heartbeat, Heart Math has helped students lower their stress and anxiety levels through simple breathing exercises.
Madeline and Brooke are students at Westview and they tell us how the device works.
“You get the cord and clip it on your ear and it measures your breathing and tells you if you’re calm or if you need more exercise,” Madeline said.
So how do you know if you’re calm or need exercise?
“If the sensor is red it means you’re anxious and you need to calm down” Brooke said. “If it’s blue it means you’re sort of calm but not quite and if it’s green – you’re totally there.”
Principal of Westview Jeff Porter tells Mix News he used the device right before school started, he had a few things on his mind and it went in the red zone for a few minutes.
“Then I focused and started to calm down. I still use it the odd time – it’s incredible how it helps you focus and de-stress.
The Fort McMurray Public School District has seen positive in results from its students and with the one year mark of the wildfire on Wednesday, the Canadian Mental Health Association is hoping the device can have the same effect on First Responders.
After seeing the device in action, Deputy Chief of Emergency Services Brad Grainger feels this device can be extremely beneficial to first responders.
“This is a good opportunity for us to showcase this and show this program and it’s a tool that works. So, if people can just use this as a springboard – it can lead to better mental health.”
Grainger feels first responder’s participation in Heart Math will provide firefighters with more tools and information to support their mental wellbeing.
Mental Health Week happens to coincide with May 3 and the CMHA wants Heart Math to be a coping mechanism for those dealing with trauma.