New Program Focuses on Families of First Responders Impacted by PTSD

Family members of first responders impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will now have access to new supports in increasing resiliency and improving mental health outcomes.

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From left to right: Paul LeBlanc, Paramedic, Ambulance New Brunswick, Ed Mantler, VP of Programs and Priorities, Mental Health Commission of Canada, Bernard Lord, CEO, Medavie, Michel Gravel, Senior Manager, Deployment & Medical Communications Management Centre, NB EMS, Eric Arsenault, Fire Chief, City of Moncton

Medavie Health Foundation is partnering with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to develop Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) for Families and other Supportive Relationships. The Foundation is providing $74,600, with Brain Canada Foundation providing matching funding, for further adaptation and knowledge exchange, making this a near $150,000 initiative.

This new national program to be available in both French and English will be adapted for family members and others in supportive relationships of paramedics and other first responders. Relevant stakeholders will be involved in the development of the program, which will be evaluated by those it is aimed at supporting.

Quick Facts

  • Originally developed by the Department of National Defence, R2MR was adapted by MHCC to meet the mental health needs of first responders. Evaluation results show that participating in R2MR training reduces the stigma that often surrounds mental health problems and mental illness, and increases resiliency.1
  • This new program will be developed by MHCC and Dr. Heather Stuart of Queen’s University, with support from the University of Calgary’s Dr. Andrew Szeto, who helped develop the R2MR program for first responders.
  • First responders, whose jobs expose them to persistent, repeated exposure to potentially triggering incidents, are at ongoing risk of developing mental health problems, including PTSD.
  • Research on U.S. veterans has shown the harmful impact of PTSD on families, including marital problems, family violence, partner distress, and behaviour problems in children. 2

“Paramedics are the lifeblood of our organization, which makes post-traumatic stress disorder a cause that is near and dear to us. We recognize the impact PTSD can have on a family. This program will support their mental health needs while providing them with the tools to help their loved one.”

Erik Sande, President, Medavie Health Services

“This new program embodies our commitment of investing in the health and well-being of Canadians through our support of innovative, evidence-based solutions that address the health care needs of our communities. It’s also an example of a different kind of heath care, one that doesn’t start in a doctor’s office, but in our kitchens and living rooms in keeping Canadians healthy and living their best lives.”

Bernard Lord, CEO, Medavie

“It is clear that improving mental health is a priority in paramedicine and other first responders. But we often forget about the family members and the important role they can play in supporting their loved ones. By supporting first responders and their families through R2MR, we aim to increase literacy and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, helping to create a healthy work and home life environment. It says a lot about Medavie and Brain Canada that they have recognized this and have decided to contribute to the development of this important project.”

Ed Mantler, Vice President Programs and Priorities, Mental Health Commission of Canada

“Brain Canada believes that by better connecting research findings and practice, every discovery along the pathway carries the potential to improve lives. Brain Canada is proud to partner with Medavie Health Foundation and the Mental Health Commission of Canada on this initiative that aims to improve the mental health outcomes of first responders.”

Inez Jabalpurwala, President and CEO, Brain Canada Foundation

Associated Links

1. The Road to Mental Readiness
2. Effects of PTSD on Family – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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