Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Read about the 2018 winners of the award at

Register now for the 2019 Employee Recommended Workplace Awards at Get feedback from your staff and get recognized for your excellence in health and wellness. Deadline to register is Nov. 22.

Mental Illness Awareness Week runs from Oct. 1-7.

Story continues below advertisement

First responders form a unique and resilient work force. Safeguarding their mental health is integral to protecting and promoting the safety of our communities.


First responders are often called upon to operate in high stress situations and may be routinely exposed to trauma. In contrast, they must also contend with the daily grind of long hours, shift work, boredom and the anxiety of waiting for the next call.

Training, focus and keeping perspective all help to shore up mental wellness and reduce the risk of mental injury. Beyond post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), operational stress injuries can include everything from depression to substance misuse.

A recent online survey found that public safety personnel are up to four times more likely than the general population to have a mental health problem. This study provided the first national snapshot of the mental health of first responders in Canada. The picture is far from homogenous, with differences emerging depending on diagnosis, sex, age, geographical location, and profession – with paramedics at highest risk.

While the majority of first responders are coping well, more can be done to help them recover from operational stress injuries and boost their resiliency to help protect their psychological wellness in the face of job stress.

When it comes to the mental health of first-responders, there are many innovative possibilities on the horizon. These tailor-made solutions are changing a long-established culture of stoicism into one of collegial support.

Story continues below advertisement


Bill C-211, a recently passed law, recognizes the potentially harmful psychological effects of working in high stress occupations – including those employed as first responders. Under this bill, federal, provincial and territorial governments are called upon to convene with key stakeholders and develop a federal framework to provide timely diagnosis and treatment for PTSD. This is a good first step towards recognizing the special considerations that should be extended to those whose workplaces can present unique hazards to their psychological safety.


All workplaces can benefit from implementing the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. A new standard for paramedics, Psychological health and safety in the paramedic service organization, was released last April and is also a valuable resource for all first responder organizations. Commissioned by the Paramedic Association of Canada and developed by the CSA Group with funding from Ontario’s Occupational Health, Safety and Prevention Innovation Program, this standard offers sector-specific guidance for developing and maintaining a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.

Specifically, it helps paramedic workers and their employees:

· Raise awareness of associated stigma, self-stigma and harassment;

Story continues below advertisement

· Systematically identify sources of stress and psychological hazards; and

· Examine changes and control measures that can be implemented to address those hazards.

Contrary to popular belief, many organizations are already doing important work to promote and protect the mental health and wellness of their workers. Take the York Region Paramedic Services, which has established an innovative and pro-active peer support team. A first responder trained in psychological first aid is sent out on every shift to check on his or her colleagues. The 20-member peer-support team hears about concerns ranging from trauma at work to problems at home, to addictions and financial worries. York Regional Paramedic Chief Norm Barette says the program is filling a “silent void.”

Slowly but surely, concerted efforts to fill this void will help to build an internal resiliency. This could include training like the Road to Mental Readiness a program originally developed by the Department of National Defense and adapted by the MHCC for first responders, which teaches coping skills to manage mental health problems based on the mental health continuum model.

Louise Bradley is President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto.

Story continues below advertisement

You can find other stories likes these at

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies