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Feds invest $11 million into post-traumatic stress research in public safety officers

The Canadian federal government has provided $11 million to the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) to fund research projects related to post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI) in public safety officers.

February 19, 2019  By Staff

Firefighters, police officers, paramedics and all other branches of public safety have a much higher potential of being exposed to traumatic incidents while on duty than other occupations. The constant exposure and involvement in high-pressure, traumatic situations leave these public servants at a higher risk of developing a PTSI.

The Canadian Institute of Health Research said in a news release that, “with more research, we can better determine which policies, programs and treatments will make the most difference for the mental wellness and resilience of people in public safety occupations.”

The funding from the federal government will provide $150,000 each to 22 one-year research projects. Each project focuses on a specific area of mental health and PTSI in public safety officers.

There is an additional $8.4 million that is funding a four-year research project, which is developing new tools and strategies to address the major gaps of PTSI research in public safety officers.

Dr. Samuel Weiss, the scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, said these investments into research projects are a great step forward in promoting collaborative research from institutes all over the country.

“These investments will stimulate new scientific knowledge on PTSI and create a national hub for knowledge exchange and co-ordination that will ultimately drive better mental health outcomes for Canada’s hard-working public safety personnel,” Weiss said.

In addition to the federal funding towards research projects dedicated to PTSI in public safety officers, the RCMP announced that they are investing $10 million into a long-term study about the mental health of their new recruits.

This study will track the experiences of new officers to see if performing the job of an RCMP officer relates to the development of mental health issues, since the probability of being involved in a traumatic incident is high.

“Public safety personnel put themselves in harm’s way to protect Canadians, putting them disproportionately at risk of PTSI,” said Ralph Goodale, minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “Our county must do more to protect the mental well-being of public safety officers on-the-job.”

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