New mental health supports available for public safety partners

Island correctional workers, volunteer and career firefighters, search and rescue volunteers, paramedics, police officers and public safety communicators can access a new, free, online mental health support program.

In partnership with the University of Regina and the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT), the Province is launching Public Safety Calls(link is external), a new bilingual mental health program designed to support the unique needs of public safety personnel (PSP).

“PSPNET has been tailored to meet the needs of first responders and other public safety personnel, and covers various strategies known to improve wellbeing. Nearly all our clients say the program was worth their time, and over 90% report increased confidence in managing their symptoms from post-traumatic stress injuries, depression or anxiety. It is a privilege for our team to deliver these supports to PSP and we appreciate the opportunity to extend our work to PSP in Prince Edward Island,” said Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, Professor of Psychology at the University of Regina and Director of the University of Regina’s clinical research unit, PSPNET.

This confidential, evidence-based program, developed and delivered by trained clinicians and researchers from the University of Regina’s clinical research unit, PSPNET, uses internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (ICBT) and course work to help participants overcome the mental health challenges they may develop as a result of their occupation.

“There are close to 1,300 Islanders who volunteer or who have chosen a career to serve and protect Islanders and this province. The toll this can take on their mental health has been well documented, and we need to do something to support them. Public Safety Calls, with the expertise of the PSPNET therapists, is designed with public safety partners and the traumatic events they experience in mind. I am optimistic that this program and the clinical researchers involved will serve Island first responders and public safety officers well so that they can continue doing the difficult job of keeping us all safe.”

– Justice and Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson

The program will run as a two-year pilot at no cost to eligible public safety personnel. Participants will receive up to 16 weeks of therapist support and can take two eight-week courses, PSP Wellbeing Course and PSP PTSD Course, on managing post-traumatic stress disorder and improving wellbeing. They will also receive secure weekly online, and phone supports from a trained therapist, where they are provided individual support and are able to learn various skills and techniques to identify and manage anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress or injury.

“The people who serve on the front lines of public safety perform a very valuable service. But their work can have a high emotional and mental cost. This new service can help care for these caregivers by offering mental health services that are accessible from home, or in the community across the province so that Islanders can get the support they need, when and where they need it,” said Health and Wellness Minister Ernie Hudson.

First responders and other Island public safety professionals can register for Public Safety Calls online(link is external).

Media contact:
Vicki Tse
Department of Justice and Public Safety

Source: Government of Prince Edward Island

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