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Federal government provides $20 million to U of R for PTSI research and treatment

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 27, 2022 1:00 p.m.

Public Health Agency of Canada provides $20 million to U of R researchers to support and deliver mental health interventions to frontline health care workers, public safety personnel and their families.
Public Health Agency of Canada provides $20 million to U of R researchers to support and deliver mental health interventions to frontline health care workers, public safety personnel and their families. Photo: iStock

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, public safety personnel (PSP) and frontline health-care workers were already disproportionately at risk of post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI) relative to the general population. The significantly increased pressure on these Canadians imposed by the pandemic amplified the frequency, severity, and complexity of the potentially psychologically traumatic events they were exposed to. This has left PSP and frontline workers with even higher rates of PTSI.

Now, thanks to massive support from the federal government, help for Canada’s PSP, front line health-care workers, and their families is on the way.

On PTSD Awareness Day (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) in Saskatchewan and Ontario, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced almost $20 million for the University of Regina, through the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT), to fund five projects that will explore and support the mental health needs of Canadian frontline health care workers, public safety personnel, their families, and other essential workers.

The announcement, made earlier today, marks the largest, one-time funding contribution in the U of R’s history. 

PHAC Announcement 2
Dr. Jeff Keshen, University of Regina president and vice-chancellor; Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, University of Regina psychology professor and scientific director of CIPSRT; The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, minister of mental health and addictions and associate minister of health; Caeleigh Landry, University of Regina master’s student in the Department of Psychology and daughter of an RCMP officer all spoke at today’s $20 million announcement at the University of Regina.
Credit: U of R Photography Caption

“Canada’s frontline and essential workers have sacrificed so much to keep us healthy and safe throughout the pandemic, and they deserve our support,” said the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, minister of mental health and addictions, and associate minister of health. “With today’s investment, our government is helping create new tools to support those most at risk of PTSD and encourage their healing process, all while reducing stigma and removing barriers to care. To all frontline workers – we are incredibly grateful for your continued dedication and commitment to caring for our communities. Thank you!” 

Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton is a University of Regina clinical psychology professor and the scientific director for the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment. He is also part of all five research projects being supported by today’s announcement.

“This federal government investment is supporting CIPSRT researchers’ efforts to design, deliver, and evaluate diverse and much-needed mental-health support to Canada’s public safety personnel, front line health-care workers, as well as their leadership and families,” said Carleton, “These Canadians have always supported our health and safety, and they made even more extraordinary sacrifices during the pandemic. Now, through training and treatment, we are working to provide them with the support they need.

Dr. Nathalie Reid, who leads the Child Trauma Research Centre (CTRC) at the University, is one of the co-leads of the project targeted toward helping families of public safety personnel.

“Our Ecosystem of Resources and Supports project will support the mental well-being of family members,” said Reid. “Providing family members with mental-health resources and supports is critical for addressing their needs and also supports the mental well-being of the associated public safety personnel.”

University of Regina President Dr. Jeff Keshen said that the University of Regina is a leader in innovative, mental health research and support in Canada and the funding received from the Public Health Agency of Canada will allow researchers to expand on their work in these critically important areas.

“Public safety and frontline personnel provide vital, life-saving services to Canadians across the country, and we are pleased to support them, and their families, through our research and programs addressing their mental health and well-being,” said Keshen.

The following projects will be led by University of Regina and involve multiple partners from across Canada:

  • Expansion and Evaluation of the Before Operational Stress Program (approx. $9.0 million)
  • Canadian Institutes for Pandemic Health Education and Response (approx. $2.8 million)
  • An Ecosystem of Resources and Supports for Public Safety Personnel Families (approx. $2.1 million)
  • Advancing Peer Support Programming to address PTSD and trauma among Canadian Public Safety Personnel and Veterans (approx. $3.7 million)
  • Training and Development Program for Public Safety Personnel (approx. $2.1 million)

In total, today the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, announced an investment of $28.2 million in funding for nine projects across Canada to address PTSD and trauma in frontline and essential workers, and others whose mental health has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.