A Qualitative Analysis of the Mental Health Training and Educational Needs of Firefighters, Paramedics, and Public Safety Communicators in Canada

Lentz, Liana
Smith-MacDonald, Lorraine
Malloy, David, C.
Anderson, Gregory, S.
Beshai, Shadi
Ricciardelli, Rosemary
Bremault-Phillips, Suzette
Carleton, R. Nicholas
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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

Background—Public safety personnel (PSP) are at heightened risk of developing mental health challenges due to exposures to diverse stressors including potentially psychologically traumatic experiences. An increased focus on protecting PSP mental health has prompted demand for interventions designed to enhance resilience. While hundreds of available interventions are aimed to improve resilience and protect PSPs’ mental health, research evidence regarding intervention effectiveness remains sparse. Methods—Focus groups with PSP elicited a discussion of psychoeducational program content, preferred modes of program delivery, when such training should occur, and to whom it ought to be targeted. Results—The results of thematic analyses suggest that PSP participants feel that contemporary approaches to improving mental health and resilience are lacking. While welcomed, the provision of sporadic one-off mental health and resilience programs by organizations was seen as insufficient, and the available organizational mental health supports were perceived as being questionable. The available programs also left participants feeling insufficiently prepared to deal with personal mental health problems and in discussing mental health concerns with co-workers. Conclusions—Participants reported needing more engaging methods for delivering information, career-long mental health knowledge acquisition, and a systems approach to improve the workplace culture, particularly regarding mental health.

© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
moral injury, public safety personnel, paramedics, firefighters, public safety communicators, mental health, trauma, education, training
Lentz, L. M., Smith-MacDonald, L., Malloy, D., Anderson, G. S., Beshai, S., Ricciardelli, R., Bremault-Phillips, S., & Carleton, R. N. (2022). A qualitative analysis of the mental health training and educational needs of firefighters, paramedics, and public safety communicators in Canada. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(12), 6972.