Addressing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma in those most affected by COVID–19

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About the fund

Supporting the mental health and well-being of people in Canada, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, is a priority.

The Government of Canada's Budget 2021 committed an investment of $50 million to support projects that address Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma in frontline workers, essential workers, and others most affected by the pandemic.

The Government of Canada recognizes the impact PTSD has on individuals, families, workplaces, and caregivers. Although anyone can be at risk for PTSD following exposure to trauma, many Canadians face increased risks because of the nature of their jobs.

Many promising mental health interventions already exist to support those at risk for PTSD and trauma. Projects funded through the Budget 2021 investment develop, deliver, and test interventions and resources, and provide guidance and supports for those who are affected or at risk. These include:

This funding program delivers, evaluates and builds evidence about what programs and policies work, for whom, and in what contexts. It also provides the opportunity to:

This investment aims to support those most impacted by PTSD and trauma and support them on their path to healing.

Funded projects

Canadian Institute for Pandemic Health Education and Response

The Canadian Institute for Pandemic Health Education and Response (CIPHER) is a time-limited task force within the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina. The CIPHER team is creating a knowledge development and exchange hub, in partnership with several existing hubs, to connect projects funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada. The CIPHER Hub and team also support ongoing evaluation and knowledge translation and mobilization to communities and service providers that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bringing mental health supports to long term care employees in Canada

The Canadian Association for Long Term Care is working with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to customize and adapt The Working Mind program for managers, supervisors, and frontline employees in long term care (LTC) homes. This project is an evidence-based program that aims to reduce the stigma of mental illness, address and promote mental health and resiliency in the workplace, and bolster mental health expertise within LTC homes by equipping them with facilitators certified in The Working Mind.

Advancing Peer Support Programming to address PTSD and trauma among Canadian public safety personnel and Veterans

The Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina is delivering the Advancing Peer Support Program, which supports coordinated national approaches to peer support for public safety personnel (PSP) and Veterans.

The coordinated efforts are occurring in 3 streams:

  1. Establishing a Peer Support Community Network, bringing together peer support leaders dedicated to advancing best practices for peer support for Canadian PSP.
  2. Scaling up the PeerOnCall and PeerOnCall Support mobile health apps to facilitate peer support for up to 30,000 PSP, including:
    1. firefighters
    2. paramedics
    3. correctional workers
    4. public safety communicators
  3. Developing and deploying important enhancements to the PSP Mental Health Resources

Expansion and evaluation of the Before Operational Stress program

The Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina is adapting, scaling-up and delivering the Before Operational Stress program. The program aims to support public safety personnel and frontline health care workers who are regularly exposed to potentially psychologically traumatic events and posttraumatic stress injuries, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PSPNET Families: Prevention resources and supports for PSP Families

The Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina is working with the Families Matter Research Group (Queen's University) and the Child Trauma Research Centre (University of Regina) to create PSPNET Families. PSPNET Families is developing online mental health promotion resources to support the families of public safety personnel (PSP) and is complementary to PSPNET, a federally-funded service that offers cognitive behaviour therapy online to PSP.

Training and Development Program for Public Safety Personnel

The Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina aims to expand access to enhanced resiliency-based training for frontline public safety personnel (PSP). This includes the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) program, which was designed by the Department of National Defense to reduce stigma, reduce barriers to care seeking, improve short-term performance, and support long-term mental health. The project is expanding R2MR training opportunities by certifying new Trainers and Master Trainers, and by developing a French version of the program to increase R2MR's online reach.

Resilient Minds: Building the psychological strength of Indigenous and Francophone firefighters

The Canadian Mental Health Association is adapting and implementing Resilient Minds to safeguard the psychological health of Francophone and Indigenous firefighters across Canada. Resilient Minds is an evidence-based and trauma-informed peer-to-peer training program. It engages and informs firefighters about occupational stress, trauma, and trauma-informed responses, resilience, personal well-being, and posttraumatic growth. Resilient Minds uses their 4R Action Toolkit to build skills needed by firefighters to reduce personal risks of a psychological injury and assist peers and members of the public who are showing signs of a psychological distress.

Educator Well-being during Pandemic Recovery: Supporting the mental health of teachers and education workers

Led by Canadian Teachers' Federation, this program aims to help teachers build resilience and promote their mental health across the country. It leverages existing platforms and capacity-building models to deliver a virtual mental health intervention, support networks, and supportive community discussion platforms.

National trauma- and violence-informed train-the-trainer mentorship program

The Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation is implementing a national trauma- and violence-informed "train-the-trainer" mentorship program to address trauma and PTSD among harm reduction and peer support workers with lived and living experience of substance use.

Promoting Indigenous mental wellness and health equity in the wake of COVID-19

The Indigenous Primary Health Care Council is developing culturally-relevant mental health education, training, tools, and resources for Indigenous health care workers in Ontario working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will enhance integrated access to care and develop Indigenous-specific strength- and culturally-relevant mental health performance indicators.

Revel: Improving health care and wellbeing

MacDonald Franklin OSI Research Centre at Lawson Health Sciences London is implementing Revel, a wellness initiative that moves beyond individual training and embraces a whole-of-organization approach. The Revel method provides a framework and a suite of tools and interventions that recognizes and engages health care workers at all levels of an organization – including leaders, frontline staff, physicians, and administrative and support staff – on workplace mental health.

Beyond Silence: Advancing E-mental health solutions to support Canadian health care workers

McMaster University is evaluating the implementation and impact of Beyond Silence, a new mobile mental health app intended to promote early intervention and mental health support for frontline health care workers. The app is designed to reduce the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting on-demand access to high quality information, links to local resources, and private connections via phone- or text-trained peer support providers.

Healthcare Salute: Thank-you for your service. An ongoing surveillance and knowledge mobilization plan to support the needs of Canadian health care professionals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

McMaster University is developing evidence-based resources for affected and at-risk health care providers, including mental health literacy tools that will help individuals recognize trauma- and stress-related experiences. The Healthcare Salute project is also equipping health care support and allied organizations to recognize and support health care providers affected by trauma and PTSD.

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