Notice: Information and plans for upcoming academic terms. Learn more.

U of R launches a new online treatment program to support public safety personnel in Saskatchewan

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: January 30, 2020 1:00 p.m.

U of R PSPNET team led by Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, Psychology Professor and Executive Director of the Online Therapy Unit
U of R PSPNET team led by Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, Psychology Professor and Executive Director of the Online Therapy Unit Photos: U of R Photography

Public safety personnel (PSP) work hard every day to protect Canadians, and provide safe, secure, strong, and resilient communities for all. 

They are often exposed to potentially traumatic incidents on the job. On any given day, PSP could be responding to a violent shooting, a fatal accident, a natural disaster, or any other emergency situation. 

_URP1039-web.jpg

U of R Psychology Professor
Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos,
Executive Director of the
Online Therapy Unit and
Principal Investigator of PSPNET
 

_URP1077-web.jpg

Saskatchewan public safety
personnel came out to show
support for the official
launch of a new online
treatment program at the
U of R

Over time, these situations may take a heavy toll on their physical and mental health, leaving them with trauma as well as other stress injuries that are not always visible. 

In order to help those who help us, a team of researchers and clinicians at the University of Regina has launched a new project called Public Safety Personnel Internet-delivered Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (PSPNET). 

The project is designed to enhance access to treatment and improve the well-being of police officers, career and volunteer firefighters, paramedics, correctional employees, border services personnel, and public-safety communications officials, living with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress injuries. 

Led by a U of R Psychology Professor Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, the project is supported by a $10-million investment over five years that was previously announced in 2018-19 by Public Safety Canada through the Government of Canada’s Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries

The program will provide free and confidential access to treatment in English and French for PSP who:

  • self-report problems with anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic 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 Saskatchewan.

PSPNET is being piloted in Saskatchewan, and will become available in Quebec later this year, with a goal of expanding nationwide in the future. 

University of Regina’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Vianne Timmons said that, “As a university that is strongly committed to the health and well-being of others, we are excited that this world-class research project will enhance access to treatment for PSP, including our first responders.” 

In a message from Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Minister Bill Blair expressed gratitude “for the opportunity to support the mental health of all public safety personnel, who face great danger in protecting our lives.” 

According to PSPNET Principal Investigator and Executive Director of the Online Therapy Unit Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, “many PSP are expected to benefit such as those who reside in remote and rural areas, those who have concerns around privacy, and individuals who have limited time.” 

“We are thrilled about the PSPNET launch, which is a long-awaited step towards ensuring all PSP have rapid access to tailored and evidence-based mental health care with no out-of-pocket costs, made real by the amazing expertise and leadership provided by Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos,” said Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, Scientific Director for the Canadian Institute of Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT). 

The PSPNET well-being course involves completing online lessons typically over eight weeks, supplemented by therapist support over secure text messages or by phone. 

For more information about this program, including how to register with PSPNET, please visit www.pspnet.ca.

Related

University of Regina led pan-Canadian consortium receives $30 million in federal funding to support public safety personnel’s mental health