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|Mental Health & Research|
What is the current state of Public Safety Communications Mental Health Research?
Ten years ago, this topic wasn't on the radar in Canada. Emergency Communications staff were a little noticed group, often relegated to a room in a basement and only considered by the public at the instant of a crisis and forgotten by many shortly thereafter. We are a group of people who care deeply for the work we do and haven't stood up for the recognition we deserve. In the last few years, however, this is beginning to shift.
In September 2016, the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) launched a Pan-Canadian Pan-Public Safety Prevalence Survey to develop a more robust baseline for Operational Stress Injuries (PTSD, anxiety, depression) for public safety personnel in Canada. This survey was partly funded by the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected through an online survey available in English and French garnering approximately 9,000 participants.
A selection of self assessment tools is available on the CIPSRT website for Public Safety Personnel to "help identify symptoms of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder." The website reminds users that the tools are intended to educate and not diagnose.
How do we compare to other Public Safety Agencies?
Direct comparisons among Public Safety Personnel are not possible because of methodological differences. However, the available data suggests Public Safety Communicators are at significantly higher risk than that of the general public.
CIPSRT ensures their research is open and available to the public via their website.
What is being done to improve the Mental Health of our members?
APCO Canada's participation in the Public Safety Steering Committee and our involvement with CIPSRT will help to aim further research. As we begin to understand the issues better, APCO Canada will be able to expand our role by helping to drive development of resilience and treatment programs for Public Safety Communications staff. We aim to take this information and these programs to municipal, provincial, and federal governments to guide safe work practices and influence compensation policies.
The Federal Government has designated funding for CIPSRT to develop and internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) program for Public Safety Personnel across Canada. This project will provide evidence based care that will be private and confidential with no out-of-pocket costs.
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