Public safety personnel are often exposed to traumatic incidents on-the-job, which can put them at risk for post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). The Government of Canada, along with its partners, are committed to supporting the mental health of public safety personnel, who put their lives on the line daily to keep our communities safe.
Today, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Bill Blair, and Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, Executive Director of the Online Therapy Unit at the University of Regina, announced the launch of an Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (ICBT) pilot project for public safety personnel. This project, delivered by the Internet Therapy For Public Safety Personnel (PSPNET) team in partnership with the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT), is supported by a $10 million federal investment, previously announced as part of the National Action Plan on PTSI. The project aims to provide greater access to mental health care and treatment for public safety personnel, especially in rural and remote areas.
The ICBT pilot project will be offered to public safety personnel (PSP) who:
- self-report problems with anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress injuries;
- are 18 years of age or older;
- are comfortable using and have access to the Internet;
- are willing to provide a local medical contact in case of emergencies; and
- live in Saskatchewan (the course will be offered to PSP who reside in Quebec later in 2020 and will be available in French).
The ICBT pilot project, called the PSP Wellbeing Course, provides free education and guidance on simple but effective techniques for managing depression, anxiety and/or post-traumatic injuries for public safety personnel.
“I applaud the PSPNET team for their excellent work developing a resource to provide the necessary care and treatment to public safety personnel in Saskatchewan. I look forward to seeing how this initiative progresses as the ultimate goal is to ensure that public safety personnel across Canada get the support they need. We must protect the well-being of our front-line personnel who dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe.”
– The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“The PSPNET team has worked very hard over the past year to tailor ICBT to meet the needs of public safety personnel and we are grateful for the support we have received from so many groups and individuals to get this initiative off the ground- starting with funding from Public Safety Canada. We are very encouraged by the initial uptake of ICBT we are seeing in Saskatchewan. We are currently focused on broader dissemination of ICBT and conducting research that will allow us to continually improve the services we offer.”
– Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, Executive Director of the Online Therapy Unit, Principal Investigator PSPNET, Treatment Director, Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment at the University of Regina
“I am absolutely delighted – Dr. Hadjistavropoulos’ internationally-renowned expertise and her leadership on this monumental initiative further justifies the investment from Public Safety Canada and honours years of faith from public safety personnel, their families, and their leaders. We are also very grateful for the years of hard-work contributed by many colleagues at CIPSRT, the Online Therapy Unit team, and Macquarie University in Australia, as well as the University of Regina Information Services and Executive Leadership.”
– Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, PSPNET Team, Scientific Director, Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment at the University of Regina
The Government of Canada previously announced an investment of $10 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, for the Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy pilot to provide greater access to care and treatment for public safety personnel, especially in rural and remote areas.
The Government of Canada released the national action plan on post-traumatic stress injuries, Supporting Canada’s Public Safety Personnel: An Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries, in April 2019.
Public safety personnel is a term that broadly encompasses front-line personnel who ensure the safety and security of Canadians across all jurisdictions. Examples can include: Tri-Services (police – including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, firefighters, and paramedics), correctional employees, border services personnel, operational and intelligence personnel, search and rescue personnel, Indigenous emergency managers, and dispatch personnel.
CIPSRT is the foremost multidisciplinary national authority on public safety personnel mental health, and is the sole research and clinical organization dedicated to public safety personnel in Canada.