Since being diagnosed with PTSD after serving on a jury for a murder trial six years ago, former marketing executive Mark Farrant has single-handedly made mandatory mental health supports for jury members a national issue.
For his pioneering advocacy work in this area, he was named a CAMH Difference Maker in 2017.
In late May of this year Mark appeared before the House of Commons Emergency COVID-19 Finance Committee to raise concerns for jury duty and the justice system, and to include jury duty among COVID-19 Essential Services. He appeared before a Senate panel on “Access to Justice in a Pandemic”, raising mental health concerns for jurors post-pandemic when trials resume.
During the COVID crisis he has not been receiving active treatment for PTSD, but one day early on in the pandemic, while standing in line outside a grocery store surrounded by anxious people in masks, he had a panic attack.
I just worked through my training to calm myself down. I focused on what I could see and hear around me. I hear a bird. I see a tree over there. It’s an oak tree. The sky looks very grey right now.
In the past I would have difficulty recognizing that I was having an attack and sometimes I would stay in the moment far too long. When I was ill before, I wouldn’t have been able to recover as quickly as I did.
For many people, what they are feeling now may be new and terrifying, but it’s important to remember that it’s very natural to be feeling this way. It’s a natural response to an unnatural scenario.
I have found myself watching a lot of movies and footage from the great wars and that collective mentality that we are all in this together.