Public safety officers play a critical role in keeping communities safe from a range of threats, putting their lives on the line to protect people. In the course of their daily work, public safety officers are repeatedly exposed to traumatic incidents, which can put them at great risk for operational stress injuries, including post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI).
On Jan. 25, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale announced an investment of $187,000 over two years to the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina. The Institute is facilitating training in a program delivered by the Canadian Armed Forces that will help prevent and raise awareness of post-traumatic stress injuries in public safety officers across Canada.
"Public safety personnel put themselves in harm's way to protect Canadians, putting them disproportionately at risk of post-traumatic stress injuries. We must do more to support their mental health and well-being," said Goodale. "Investments in training like the Road to Mental Readiness can make a real difference for those who may be dealing with these injuries."
The first five-day session of the Road to Mental Readiness Train the Trainer Program and Master Trainer Program for Public Safety Personnel wrapped up Jan. 26 at the Canadian Police College. Approximately 25 leaders from the Tri-Services (police, firefighters, paramedics and correctional services organizations) participated in the training.
The Road to Mental Readiness program, developed by the Canadian Armed Forces, aims to increase mental health awareness and offer resources to maintain positive mental health and increase resiliency in public safety personnel. By training public safety leaders in the delivery of this program, participants can themselves become trainers, instructing co-workers and personnel in their own organizations.
A second session is expected to be held later in the year to instruct participants in how to train other trainers. Through this program, essential education and resources on post-traumatic stress injuries will be made available to Canadian public safety officers quickly and efficiently.
"Evidence-based mental health scholarship is a research priority at the University of Regina, and team members involved in this project are internationally recognized for their work supporting those who suffer from operational stress injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder," said Vianne Timmons, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Regina. "We are honoured to engage in this research that stands to improve the quality of life for Canada's public safety personnel and their families."