Public safety personnel (PSP) such as firefighters, police, paramedics, search and rescue volunteers, correctional services workers and officers, border services officers, operational and intelligence analysts, and Indigenous emergency managers, all play a critical role in keeping Canadians safe. They put themselves in harm’s way to protect Canadians from a spectrum of threats, often at great personal risk. In doing so, PSP are repeatedly exposed to potentially traumatic or disturbing experiences that can take a significant toll on their mental health and well-being. Chief among these mental health issues are post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI), which refer to a broad set of persistent psychological difficulties including those resulting from operational duties performed as PSP (also known as operational stress injuries). Extending beyond clinically diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), PTSI can also include substance use, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.
Efforts to advance the knowledge base of PTSI, and PTSD in particular, are underway in other populations such as the military; nevertheless, data examining the impact of PTSI on mental health outcomes among distinct PSP groups and their unique occupational environments remain limited in Canada. Both public safety and health stakeholders have identified a need for additional research in this area.
Building on previous investments in brain and mental health research, CIHR-INMHA is launching the Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries among Public Safety Personnel funding opportunity to catalyze research projects that have a primary focus on understanding, identifying, mitigating and/or preventing PTSI and adverse mental health outcomes among PSP.
This funding opportunity will support applications relevant to one or more of the following priority areas:
- Data collection, analysis and/or reporting on the incidence and prevalence of PTSI in PSP, which may also include information on relevant co-morbidities and health determinants
- Biological, clinical and social characteristics of PTSI, including differences that contribute to the risk for developing PTSI and measures/characteristics that may be associated with better treatment outcomes and resilience among PSP
- Prevention, including measures, programs and interventions with potential to limit the number of new cases of PTSI among PSP
- Diagnosis, including assessment procedures and guidelines to improve existing or establish new clinical validation tools for PTSI in PSP
- Treatment and intervention, such as psychological and clinical approaches related to symptom reduction in PSP
- Mental health awareness, stigma reduction, anti-discrimination, and/or literacy programs that have the potential to improve mental wellness among PSP
Applicants must integrate sex and gender perspectives into their research to promote rigorous science that has the potential to expand our understanding of health determinants for all people. As such, applicants are required to indicate how they will account for sex (biological factor) and gender (socio-cultural factor) in the research design, methods, analysis and interpretation, and dissemination of findings. For more information and resources, please see the Sex, Gender and Health Research page on the CIHR website.