University of Regina research playing major role in national PTSI research

Regina Firefighters respond to a December, 2018 fire. Dave Parsons / Global News

Public safety personnel, like firefighters, police, paramedics and prison guards, often find themselves in harm’s way. This puts them at a higher risk of post-traumatic stress injuries (PSTI) than the general population.

This is why a series of grants from The Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) are putting $11 million to research the effects of PTSI and emergency personnel.

PTSI is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) will support the 22 winners in the first phase of this pan-Canadian project. Each recipient will receive $150,000 one-year grants, to better understand how to identify, treat and prevent PTSIs in public safety workers.

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University of Regina psychology professor Nicholas Carelton is the scientific director for CIPSRT, and his work will include research on peer support and stress programs across the country.

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“We’ll also be looking at research that is focused on understanding everything from variables that might predict who is going to have more or less difficulty with post-traumatic stress – all the way to understanding how families interact with providing support for public safety personnel,” Carelton added.

The CIHR also launched a new PTSI grant competition to support four-year PTSI research projects focused on developing tools to address gaps in treating PTSIs. Successful applicants are expected to be announced in March, 2020.

The research will be used to help draft public policy, which Carelton hopes can help public safety workers live better, happier lives.

This is part of the federal government’s five year, $20 million plan to bolster PTSI research through the CIHR.

“Public safety personnel put themselves in harm’s way to protect Canadians, putting them disproportionately at risk of post-traumatic stress injuries,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.

“Our country must do more to protect the mental well-being of public safety officers on-the-job. The initiatives highlighted today will help address gaps in PTSI research and inform long-term plans to support the mental health and well-being of our public safety personnel.”


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