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February 22, 2019

JIBC awarded grant to develop mental health screening tool for public safety personnel

One of 22 projects funded by $2.95-million investment by Government of Canada

The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) has been awarded a grant of more than $127,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to support the development and validation of a mental health screening tool for public safety personnel.

The project is led by principal investigator Dr. Greg Anderson, JIBC’s Dean of the Office of Applied Research and Graduate Studies, and is in collaboration with the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT).

“While research clearly indicates that public safety personnel are at greater risk of developing mental health disorders, there are no quick and simple screening tools for these groups to identify those suffering,” said Dr. Anderson. “This in turn limits a person’s ability to benefit from early intervention in getting the appropriate help for improved mental health. This work hopes to fill this gap and establish a screening tool that can be used by individuals themselves, in addition to clinicians treating public safety personnel.”  

JIBC’s project will develop a screening and self-identification tool for public safety professionals providing an early indication of who might be suffering from post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). It will identify individuals who may need medical follow-up before participating in training, preventive or treatment programs that could potentially trigger or exacerbate symptoms. By matching personnel to the most appropriate interventions, this project will fill a significant research gap and may well increase the effectiveness of mental wellness programming.

The collaborating researchers involved bring a wide range of expertise – JIBC’s Dr. Anderson (public safety), Dr. Dianne Groll of Queen’s University (psychiatry), Dr. Nicholas Carleton of the University of Regina (psychology) and JIBC Research Associate Dr. Adam Vaughan (criminal justice). The researchers will conduct testing and validation with existing databases at CIPSRT, and pilot use of the instrument in patient populations. 

JIBC’s project is one of 22 funded with a $2.95-million investment by the Government of Canada to support research on how to identify, treat and prevent PTSI among public safety workers. Such personnel, from firefighters and police officers, to paramedics and correctional workers among others, withstand hazardous work environments while keeping communities safe which can put them at risk for mental health injuries.

Of these 22 projects, Dr. Anderson is also a co-investigator in three others ­led by the University of Regina and is serving as a collaborator on a fourth project, led by Saskatchewan Health (Regina).

The initiatives are all part of JIBC’s overall research efforts aimed at supporting those working in justice and public safety professions who play a vital role in keeping our communities safe.

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About Justice Institute of British Columbia 

Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) is Canada’s leading public safety educator with a mission to develop dynamic justice and public safety professionals through its exceptional applied education, training and research. JIBC offers internationally recognized education that leads to certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees and graduate certificates; exceptional continuing education for work and career-related learning and development; and customized contract training to government agencies and private organizations worldwide. Our education provides professionals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to excel at every stage of their career contributing to safer communities and a more just society.

Tags: first responder, mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-traumatic stress injury, PTSD, PTSI

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Last updated February 22, 2019