Public safety personnel (PSP) in Saskatchewan have a new on-line tool to help them manage and maintain their mental health and well-being. The University of Regina today announced the launch of the new Public Safety Personnel Internet-delivered Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (PSPNET) program at the Canadian Institute of Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT).
Supported by a $10-million investment over five years that was previously announced in 2018-19 by Public Safety Canada through the Government of Canada’s Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries, the new Internet-delivered therapy program, PSPNET, provides free and confidential access to treatment for PSP across the province.
The program will initially be available in Saskatchewan only, but PSPNET will soon be expanded to include Quebec, with the goal of becoming available across Canada in the future. PSP who reside in remote and rural areas are expected to benefit the most as they often have limited access to supports, and concerns around privacy can prevent them from reaching out for support.
“Public safety personnel play an important role in ensuring the safety of all Canadians. They are often exposed to traumatic experiences and very stressful situations that can affect their mental health and well-being,” said Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina. “As a University that is strongly committed to the health and well-being of others, we are excited that this world-class research project will enhance access to treatment for PSP, including our first responders.”
“We are thrilled about the PSPNET launch, which is a long-awaited step towards ensuring all PSP have rapid access to tailored and evidence-based mental health care with no out-of-pocket costs, made real by the amazing expertise and leadership provided by Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos,” said Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, Scientific Director for CIPSRT.
Modelled after a program developed at Macquarie University in Australia, PSPNET will be led by Dr. Hadjistavropoulos and delivered by a new team of clinicians trained to provide Internet-delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to PSP. Dr. Hadjistavropoulos also founded and oversees the Online Therapy Unit which has previously been recognized for its cutting-edge research and clinical work in this area.
“Through this program, we focus on improving the well-being of public safety personnel such as police officers, career and volunteer firefighters, paramedics, correctional employees, border services personnel, and public-safety communications officials, living with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress injuries,” said Dr. Hadjistavropoulos.
“Whether it’s responding to a homicide, a fatal vehicle collision, a suicide, or a dangerous situation, officers encounter a lot on the job that may take a heavy toll on them over a period of time,” said Cst. Derrick Fox of the Regina Police Service’s canine unit. “This kind of a program will provide the much needed support to PSP in dealing with their mental health issues.”
PSPNET is designed to provide free education and guidance on simple but effective techniques for managing depression, anxiety and/or post-traumatic injuries. It involves completing online lessons typically over eight weeks, supplemented by therapist support over secure text messages or by phone.
The program also provides opportunities for therapists and graduate students to become specialized in the delivery of treatment for PSP.
For more information about this program, including how to register with PSPNET, please visit www.pspnet.ca.
About the University of Regina
The University of Regina—with campuses located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories, the ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, and Lakota nations and the homeland of the Métis—is a comprehensive, mid-sized university that traces its roots back to the creation of Regina College in 1911. Today, more than 16,500 students study within the University’s 10 faculties, 25 academic departments/schools, 18 research centres and institutes, and three federated colleges (Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College). The University of Regina has an established reputation for excellence and innovative programs that lead to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees.
Photo credit: U of R Photography