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Wounded Warriors, Ontario Shores launch service to support first responder mental health


May 29, 2020
By Staff

Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) and Wounded Warriors Canada announced a new service to meet the growing mental health needs of first responders.

First Responder Assist builds on the expertise of both organizations and will enhance the culturally-specific trauma programs provided by Wounded Warriors Canada. An inter-professional team will be dedicated to serving the psycho-logical needs of first responders in the province.

This new service offers a number of virtual and in-person (through Wounded Warriors venue partners) prevention and treatment services in the form of individual and couples-based trauma therapy, immediate crisis support, resiliency training, and cognitive behavioural and processing therapies (CBT, CPT, IPT). It is anticipated the program will support approximately 200 service members through its first year in operation.

“This is another milestone in our journey with Wounded Warriors Canada,” says Ontario Shores president and CEO Karim Mamdani. “We have heard clearly from first responder organizations and this government that now is the time to step forward and provide the evidence-based, measured and culturally specific supports first responders so desperately need.”

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Canadian research looking at operational stress injuries among first responders, which include police, paramedics, fire-fighters, 911 communicators and corrections officers suggest they are much more likely to develop a mental disorder than the general population. As well, first responders experience Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSIs) and critical incident stress at twice the level of the general public.

“Partnerships represent the driving force of our effort to break down barriers to mental health care for veterans, first responders and their family members,” says Scott Maxwell, executive director of Wounded Warriors Canada. “First Responder Assist is a significant step forward in our partnership with Ontario Shores as we work towards developing a comprehensive, province-wide program to better serve the unique needs of our First Responders and their families in Ontario.”

How to access this service

Referrals are accepted from individuals (self), health professionals, family physicians, nurse practitioners, or current psychiatrists, through the Central Intake department at 1-877-767-9642 (Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or centralized referral form.

For self-referrals, an intake nurse can work with you over the phone to help you complete the referral. Outside of these hours, please use the crisis line at 800.263.2679.

Visit www.ontarioshores.ca/firstresponders for more information.