Supporting the Support System: Medavie investing in resources for first responder Families


Did you know that at least 1 in 9 Canadians will be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in their lifetime?[1]

On PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) Awareness Day, Medavie is recognizing the important role Families play in supporting Canadians dealing with post-traumatic stress, particularly Families of emergency first responders, and the need for Families to be supported as well.

Post-traumatic stress (PTS) refers to the highly variable symptoms of stress or distress that may be experienced after exposure to a potentially traumatic event. A traumatic event is different than normal daily stress or pressure. Potential traumas usually involve experiencing or witnessing severe injury, feeling that your life or somebody else’s life is in danger, or witnessing an intentional or accidental death. The combination of symptoms will be different in every person, and not everyone who has experienced or seen trauma will develop PTSD.

While post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the term most often used in public discussion, the addition of “disorder” means it is a clinically diagnosed condition. Post-traumatic stress (PTS) applies to those experiencing symptoms, but who may not yet be formally diagnosed.

Post-traumatic stress not only affects those who experienced trauma, it can impact their Families and support systems too — from their household to relatives, friends, and anyone who plays a significant role in their life.

Medavie, through the Medavie Health Foundation, is partnering with The Centre of Excellence on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Related Mental Health Conditions in developing an online resource hub that will include tailored, co-designed multimedia resources and a repository of PTS-related programs and services relevant to first responders and their Families. This will allow the Centre of Excellence to build on the related work they are already engaged in with a focus on military and RCMP Veterans and their Families.

First responders, along with members of the military and Veterans, are disproportionately affected by PTS because of the nature of their work. Among those at higher risk of PTS are paramedics, firefighters (career and volunteer), police, Indigenous emergency managers, search and rescue and public safety communications personnel (911 operators, dispatchers), correctional services officers, border services officers and operational intelligence personnel.

Family members are often the first to see the early signs of post-traumatic stress. They can be key to ensuring first responders access care and helping the person living with PTSD improve their wellbeing. At the same time, first responder Families face immense pressures themselves and they need assistance, too.

“The Centre of Excellence has a research and education mandate to improve evidence-based mental health services and supports for military and RCMP Veterans and their Families,” said Dr Patrick Smith, President & CEO, Centre of Excellence on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Related Mental Health Conditions. “With our foundational mandate in place, our partnership with Medavie will broaden our reach to improve the capacity of individuals, organizations and health professionals in understanding, preventing and/or treating PTSD and related mental health conditions across the first responder population.”

“With our foundational mandate in place, our partnership with Medavie will broaden our reach to improve the capacity of individuals, organizations and health professionals in understanding, preventing and/or treating PTSD and related mental health conditions across the first responder population.”

Dr Patrick Smith

“Medavie’s mission is to improve the wellbeing of Canadians and this is why first responders and Families impacted by post-traumatic stress is a core cause of our foundation,” said Bernard Lord, CEO, Medavie. “We are committed to helping ensure that members of the first responder community, regardless of their role, know where to access information about supports and services to support their loved ones and themselves.”

“We are committed to helping ensure that members of the first responder community, regardless of their role, know where to access information about supports and services to support their loved ones and themselves.”

Bernard Lord

To learn more about PTSD, including symptoms and where to find help:

Centre of Excellence on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Related Mental Health Conditions:

Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment:

[1]Public Health Agency of Canada: Federal Framework on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Recognition, collaboration and support.

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