FORMER police officer Allan Sparkes felt mentally fragile after two work-related incidents left him with post traumatic stress disorder.
It is an experience he will share as keynote speaker at the Hills Mental Health Seminar on Saturday.
Mr Sparkes received the Cross of Valour — the highest bravery decoration in Australia — for the rescue of a boy who was swept 600 metres down a storm water drain during the 1996 Coffs Harbour floods.
Shortly before this, he was part of a team sent to subdue a gunman who had shot a friend and colleague, and to recover his body.
"The rescue of a child on top of that in such a short space afterwards really was catastrophic as far as my mental health was concerned," he said. "Back then if you were considered damaged, you were considered damaged permanently and therefore to be discarded, whereas now there is an attitude that we can repair people."
Ted Cassidy, psychiatrist at the Hills Clinic, Kellyville, said the seminar aimed to encourage people to be proactive about their mental health. "One of the hardest things in mental illness is the isolation which people can feel," he said.
Author Graeme Cowan will talk on depression; psychologist Terrance Lim on sleep; and psychiatrist Danielle Florida on alcohol and drugs.
Details: Hills Council, 129 Showground Road, Castle Hill, 9am-1pm.
Be the first to email your name and suburb to firstname.lastname@example.org from 9am on Thursday to win Graham Cowan's novel Back From The Brink Too: Helping your loved one overcome depression and DVD Beating Depression.