Group launches Pharmacy Workforce Wellness initiative
Prince Edward Island, along with its partners the University of Regina and the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT), is launching a new free mental health program designed to support the unique needs of public safety personnel (PSP).
The Public Safety Calls is a new bilingual, confidential, evidence-based program, developed and delivered by trained clinicians and researchers from the University of Regina’s clinical research unit.
This confidential, evidence-based program, developed and delivered by trained clinicians and researchers from the University of Regina’s clinical research unit, PSPNET, uses internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (ICBT) and course work to help participants overcome the mental health challenges they may develop as a result of their occupation.
The program is available to Island correctional workers, volunteer and career firefighters, search and rescue volunteers, paramedics, police officers and public safety communicators.
“There are close to 1,300 Islanders who volunteer or who have chosen a career to serve and protect Islanders and this province. The toll this can take on their mental health has been well documented, and we need to do something to support them,” said Bloyce Thompson, minister of justice and public safety.
“Public Safety Calls, with the expertise of the PSPNET therapists, is designed with public safety partners and the traumatic events they experience in mind. I am optimistic that this program and the clinical researchers involved will serve Island first responders and public safety officers well so that they can continue doing the difficult job of keeping us all safe.”
The program will run as a two-year pilot. Participants will receive up to 16 weeks of therapist supports and can take two eight-week courses, PSP Wellbeing Course and PSP PTSD Course. The courses discuss lessons on managing post-traumatic stress disorder and improving wellbeing.
Participants will also receive secure weekly online, and phone supports from trained therapists. They will be provided individual support and they will be able to learn various skills and techniques to identify and manage anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress or injury.
“PSPNET has been tailored to meet the needs of first responders and other public safety personnel, and covers various strategies known to improve wellbeing,” said Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos, professor of psychology at the University of Regina and director of the University of Regina’s clinical research unit, PSPNET.
“Nearly all our clients say the program was worth their time, and over 90% report increased confidence in managing their symptoms from post-traumatic stress injuries, depression or anxiety. It is a privilege for our team to deliver these supports to PSP and we appreciate the opportunity to extend our work to PSP in Prince Edward Island,” said Hadjistavropoulos.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is also launching its Pharmacy Workforce Wellness initiative to address the core causes driving stress and burnout in the profession. The program will identify solutions and strategies aimed at minimizing the impact of the pandemic and its effect on the pharmacy workforce.
Pharmacists and their teams are struggling with fears of exposure to COVID-19, staff shortages and increasing workloads amid the pandemic, according to the group.
"There is a critical need to support our pharmacy community," said Dr. Danielle Paes, chief pharmacist officer at CPhA. "We have asked a lot of pharmacy professionals over the past two years. Their unwavering commitment to carry us through this pandemic and meet the increased public demand for their services has put their own wellness at risk."
Under the program, the group is now asking pharmacists to participate in the Canadian Pharmacy Mental Health and Workforce Wellness Survey to understand and highlight the profession's state of mental health and the pressures being felt by pharmacists and pharmacy teams during this challenging time.
The survey is available here.