News & Events
February 8, 2022
New internet-delivered therapy program to support first responders and public safety personnel in the Maritimes
Improving mental health services and support to those who answer the call in times of need.
February 8, 2022 – Public safety personnel (PSP) in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island now have access to a new online evidence-based tool to help them manage and maintain their mental health and wellbeing.
The Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina has expanded the PSP Internet-delivered Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (ICBT) program, known as PSPNET, to provide free online therapy in either English or French to first responders and other PSP living in the region.
PSPNET is supported by the federal and provincial governments and Medavie, a national health solutions partner. In addition to the initial and ongoing funding support provided by Public Safety Canada, the three provinces will invest $387,500 over two years. Medavie will match the government funds with a two-year investment through the Medavie Health Foundation.
Led by Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, one of Canada’s leaders in ICBT, her team of expert researchers and clinicians at the University of Regina will oversee the innovative PSPNET programming to help address mental health challenges facing PSP and their families.
PSPNET offers confidential treatment and education services at no cost to current and former first responders and other PSP, including border services personnel, correctional workers, firefighters (career and volunteer), operational and intelligence personnel, paramedics, police (municipal, provincial, federal), public safety communicators (e.g., dispatchers, 911 operators), and search and rescue personnel. The tailored services can be easily accessed online or by phone anytime from wherever PSP feel comfortable and secure, with their privacy protected.
“It is a privilege for our team to deliver our program to public safety personnel who may need support with posttraumatic stress injuries. PSPNET has been tailored to meet the needs of public safety personnel and covers various strategies known to improve wellbeing. I am proud of the work our team has done to help public safety personnel who do so much to keep us all safe, and I appreciate the opportunity to extend our work to public safety personnel into our Maritime provinces.” said Dr. Hadjistavropoulos, Professor of Psychology at the University of Regina, Founder and Director of the Online Therapy Unit and Founder and Principal Investigator of PSPNET
“Police officers, border guards and other public safety personnel have spent a lifetime protecting Canadians – and we must protect them. Having made a difference in the lives of countless people in Saskatchewan and Québec, I’m so pleased that PSPNET is now available in the Maritime provinces. Our government is proud to support it, and we will continue to find new ways to help those who’ve taken care of Canadians take care of themselves.” – The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety
“First responders and public safety personnel are ready to answer the call and be there for us in our most trying moments. That’s why we’re pleased to offer them more support by providing this service at no cost to them through PSPNET.” – Dorothy Shephard, Minister of Health, New Brunswick
“Nova Scotians that work in the public safety field, including police, paramedics, corrections officers, sheriffs, and others strive every day to protect the wellbeing of citizens, communities, and organizations. We in turn have a duty to protect and support their wellbeing. The Province of Nova Scotia is pleased to invest in the PSPNET initiative, which is helping to lessen the barriers to accessing mental health supports.” – Brad Johns, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Nova Scotia
“Our province is pleased to partner with the clinical experts of the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment and the University of Regina to deliver critical mental health services designed for the 1,300 women and men who keep our Island communities safe. They have made the health and safety of Islanders their priority and having this service available to them is our commitment to making their mental health ours.” – Bloyce Thompson, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General, Prince Edward Island
“As a not-for-profit health solutions partner, Medavie is committed to improving the wellbeing of Canadians. A key focus of our Foundation is funding evidence-based services and supports for first responders and their families impacted by Post-Traumatic Stress. That’s why we are proud to partner with the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment to help ensure first responders have the support and resources in place to care for their mental health and wellbeing.” – Bernard Lord, CEO, Medavie
- In addition to the initial and ongoing funding support provided by Public Safety Canada, $775,000 is being invested in the program by the Department of Health and Wellness (New Brunswick) and the Departments of Justice and Public Safety (Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), and Medavie, through the Medavie Health Foundation.
- PSPNET is designed to provide free and confidential access for first responders and other PSP who:
- self-report challenges with anxiety, depression, or other posttraumatic stress injuries;
- are 18 years of age or older;
- are comfortable using and have access to the internet;
- are willing to provide a local medical contact in case of emergencies; and
- live in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Québec, or Saskatchewan.
- Participants can enroll in one of two courses currently offered. The first is the PSP Wellbeing Course, which is appropriate for clients who have diverse mental health concerns. The second is the PSP PTSD Course, which is specifically tailored for clients who are concerned with symptoms related to posttraumatic stress disorder. Both programs are offered in English and French, and both are designed to meet the specific needs of PSP. The courses combine online learning modules supplemented with therapist support from trained PSPNET clinicians, one to two times per week, through secure e-mails or phone calls for eight to 16 weeks, depending on need. Participants will have access to the course materials for up to a year from when they enroll.
- PSPNET has now provided services to over 400 PSP in Saskatchewan and Québec. Outcomes from our clients identify:
- more than 90% report increased confidence in managing their mental health challenges, including symptoms of posttraumatic stress injuries.
- more than 95% believe PSPNET was worth their time and would refer the service to a friend.
About the University of Regina:
The University of Regina, located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories, the ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota and Nakoda 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 16,000 students study within the University’s 10 faculties. The university has an established reputation for excellence and innovative programs that lead to undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
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