For Experts

  • Currently not a diagnosis in the DSM or ICD manuals.
  • Currently used primarily in Canada.
  • Originally defined as any mental disorder or other mental health condition resulting from operational duties performed while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. 
  • Used to describe a broad range of conditions including mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, as well as mental health conditions that may not meet DSM or ICD criteria for mental disorders but still interfere with daily functioning in social, work or family activities. 
  • The term was coined by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Stéphane Grenier as part of a broad effort to decrease the stigma associated with other language (e.g., mental disorder, mental health condition) by categorizing mental health conditions as “injuries” that are as legitimate as physical injuries sustained during operational duties. 
  • Contemporary use refers to any mental disorder or other mental health condition resulting from operational stressors experienced while serving in a professional capacity, especially in military or other public safety professions. 
  • Generally, the operational stressors associated with an operational stress injury typically refer to potentially psychologically traumatic events; however, in some cases, operational stress also refers to less severe elements of occupational duties (e.g., shift work, overtime, upholding a “higher image” in public). 
  • Occasionally, operational stress injury is mistakenly used synonymously with organizational stress injury or occupational stress injury; however, operational stress, organizational stress, and occupational stress have all been defined differently in the current literature. 
  • Organizational stressors may include staff shortages, lack of training on new equipment, lack of appropriate resources, inconsistent leadership styles, and a perceived lack of support between co-workers and leaders. 
  • “Occupational stressors” has been used to refer broadly to both operational and organizational stressors. 
  • Currently, only operational stress injury has been defined and used with any regularity by members of the mental health community.

For General Public

  • Currently not a diagnosis in the DSM or ICD manuals.
  • Refers to any mental disorder or other mental health condition resulting from operational stressors experienced (any level of severity) while serving in a professional capacity, especially in military or other public safety professions. 
  • Often mistakenly used interchangeably with occupational stress injury or organizational stress injury; therefore, wherever possible, use the acronym OSI only for operational stress injury and always be specific if referring to occupational stress injury, organizational stress injury, or operational stress injury.

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