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Research Opportunities: Program Evaluation

CMHA has partnered up with FIREWELL so that we can evaluate the impact of Resilient Minds® on fire fighters and their departments. The research data will help researchers and program developers create resources, processes, and tools that support the delivery of this training to fire services and other first responders.

Cross-jurisdiction and contextual evaluations of mental health resiliency training in fire fighters

Funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Catalyst Grant

What is the issue? Fire fighters are exposed to extremely traumatic events that result in elevated rates of posttraumatic stress injuries, depression, and suicide.Resilient Minds® (RM) is a skill-building mental health program developed as a partnership between Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Vancouver-Fraser (VF) branch. It is a comprehensive, 4-module program designed specifically for firefighters to inform them on trauma, psychological distress, trauma-informed responses, and building resiliency. Although the initial experiences have been positive, rigorous data is needed to assess the health and work impacts, and to support scale-up.

What was the aim of the study? To evaluate the delivery and health/work impacts of a protective mental health intervention (RM) for firefighters; and determine if/how location, employment context, gender, age, and prior exposures mediate these.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services – Evaluation of Pilot Project

Through a grant from WorkSafeBC, Arbor Educational & Clinical Consulting Inc. evaluated the Resilient Minds® pilot in Vancouver Fire Rescued Services (VFRS). Arbor evaluated how the course was experienced by firefighters, the impact on their perceived ability to cope more effectively to stress, and whether the course influenced the culture to be more open to learning and talking about mental health.

The evaluators found the program to be widely accepted by firefighters, successful at providing applicable tools based on our objectives, at mitigating stress and trauma responses, and at creating a psychologically safe and supportive work environment.

BC – Preliminary Results

BC Professional Fire Fighters Association supported CMHA in the evaluation of the BC provincial roll out of the Resilient Minds® program. Based on the preliminary finding in this report, findings indicate a need for such training among firefighters. As with the Vancouver pilot project, the provincial project has been well-received by firefighters. Course participants learned new knowledge and skills through their course participation. Provincial firefighters voiced a need for an ongoing focus on this area to both continue to decrease stigma related to mental health and to learn to better cope with stress and trauma related to the work.