New National Program Supports Psychological Health of Canadian Firefighters
December 1, 2020 – Today, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) expands its Resilient Minds program from British Columbia and Prince Edward Island into the Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. This program, the first of its kind, brings formal psychoeducation to fire halls and departments nationwide, mitigating occupational stress and trauma responses, while building healthier teams.
Co-developed by CMHA Vancouver-Fraser with Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services in 2016, Resilient Minds is an evidence-based, peer-led, skills and resilience development training program designed by and for firefighters.
To date, Resilient Minds has successfully equipped firefighters across BC and PEI with skills to safeguard their psychological health. The program is designed for both career and volunteer firefighters and is quickly becoming a sought-after program in the fire-fighting community across the country.
“Firefighters work hard to protect our communities, and Resilient Minds can help protect their mental health,” said Margaret Eaton, National CEO, CMHA. “This program keeps firefighters well and teaches them how to identify psychological stress and trauma in themselves, their peers and members of the public. CMHA is proud to be offering Resilient Minds to more first responders nationwide.”
Firefighters are exposed to significant trauma as a result of their work and require resources and skills to protect their psychological health, skills that are not taught as part of their technical training. This skill deficit not only puts them at risk of developing a mental illness but contributes to a rate of suicide amongst firefighters that is 30 percent higher than in the general population.
Recognizing that many other first responders, such as paramedics and nurses are in need of this training, CMHA is prepared and eager to begin adapting Resilient Minds for other first response sectors. There is a clear need for evidence-based solutions to support first responders in a way that is specific to their occupational stressors. CMHA is dedicated to promoting mentally healthy cultures and behaviours within fire services more broadly.
For more information, please visit resilientminds.cmha.ca.
About Resilient Minds
Resilient Minds has supported hundreds of firefighters in BC and PEI to develop strategies to mitigate and better manage occupational stress, resulting in informed and healthier teams. Firefighters learn to:
a) recognize the effects of psychological stress/trauma in themselves and in peers
b) communicate with peers who may be struggling
c) respond promptly, safely and appropriately to distressed citizens
d) apply personal strategies for managing stress, mitigating trauma and boosting resilience.
- Innovative and Evidence-Informed – Resilient Minds is a skill and resilience development training course designed by and for firefighters using the latest literature on resilience, stress and stress-related injuries.
- Fire Fighters Train Fire Fighters – Using a peer-to-peer model of instruction, the Resilient Minds curriculum is taught by firefighters to firefighters.
- Volunteer and Career Fire Fighters – Resilient Minds is the only training program designed to train both career and volunteer firefighters and takes into consideration the differences in experience and resources available to the two groups.
About the Canadian Mental Health Association – National
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy, programs and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive. For more information, visit cmha.ca.
CMHA Saskatchewan Division
1 306 525 5601 ext. 234
1 800 461 5483