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May 6, 2024

The Moral Injury Guide for Public Safety Personnel and Leaders

New guide seeks to shed light on invisible epidemic  

Regina, SK — Today, the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) is proud to announce the release of the Moral Injury Guide for Public Safety Personnel and Leaders. 

The concept of moral injury (MI) was first developed in military settings, and refers to psychological, existential, behavioral, and interpersonal issues that may develop following perceived violations of deep moral beliefs by oneself or trusted individuals. Military personnel reported symptoms of injury that were different to those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and though moral injury and PTSD are different, they are closely related, and the endurance of moral injury may worsen the effects or symptoms of PTSD. 

This new Moral Injury Guide for Public Safety Personnel and Leaders was written for anyone interested in learning more about moral injury, while specifically providing the public safety sector and mental healthcare professionals with a comprehensive guide on the current research understandings of what constitutes a moral injury, how MI can occur, and symptoms of which to be aware. The guide also discusses strategies PSP and their leaders may use to mitigate exposure to potentially morally injurious events (PMIEs), and how to support those suffering from MI.  

Moral injury as a concept is in progress, we are still trying to define it, consolidate language, build consensus, and provide operational pathways to access mental health supports if PSP are experiencing difficulties,” says CIPSRT’s Scientific Director Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton. “There is no formal diagnosis for ‘Moral injury’, and it’s important for someone seeking mental health resources to get a separate diagnosis, but our hope is that this guide can be used as the first step toward having those conversations.” 

The Moral Injury Guide for Public Safety Personnel and Leaders was adapted from research conducted by Phoenix Australia Center for Posttraumatic Mental Health and the Canadian Centre of Excellence for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Health Conditions (now Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families). We would like to thank the authors of the original work for their contribution to the topic of MI, and for their permission to adapt their guide for PSP. We would also like to thank our collaborators: Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families, Heroes in Mind, Advocacy and Research Consortium (HiMARC), King’s University College at Western University, Thompson River University, and the University of Alberta. The Guide would not be possible without the invaluable collaborative work done by these institutions. 

Now available – a recording of ‘ The weight they carry – Managing the impact of moral injury on first responders and other public safety personnel’, an interactive panel discussion exploring the profound impacts of moral injury on public safety personnel, as well as recommendations from the new Moral Injury Guide for support and treatment of moral injury.  

Available Resources


About CIPSRT: CIPSRT is the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment. Located in Regina, Saskatchewan, CIPSRT is committed to evidence-based research, treatment, and knowledge exchange that support an overall mission to help current and former public safety personnel, their leaders, and their families improve and maintain their overall health and wellbeing.   

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