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Ontario improving access to mental health supports for first responders

March 10, 2022
By FFIC Staff

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Mar. 10, Ontario – The Ontario government is investing $1 million for Runnymede Healthcare Centre’s First Responders Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Rehabilitation Treatment and Assessment Centre. The new centre could include up to two new facilities that will provide a comprehensive mental health rehabilitation program to first responders across the Greater Toronto Area affected by work-related stress or trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Ontario’s health care system does not currently provide mental health supports and treatments tailored to the unique needs of first responders. The new treatment centre located in Peel Region hopes to serve first responders such as firefighters, paramedics, nurses and police officers with specialized services like assessments, intensive treatment and aftercare, as well as high quality care to first responders in need of substance use treatment. Other expected services include virtual care and 24/7 crisis support, as well as peer and navigation support towards recovery.

It is estimated that over 13,000 first responders suffer from PTSD, with that number projected to grow to over 16,000 by 2040, stated the Ontario government’s news release. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the mental health challenges first responders face and enhanced the need to provide services that meet their unique needs. Over time, this project has the potential to be expanded provincially and include other frontline health care professionals to help improve access to safe and effective mental health supports across the province.

Peel Region has allocated 26 acres to support the future site of one of the new residential treatment facilities and Ontario is working with Runnymede Healthcare Centre to finalize the early stages of planning, including identifying programming, operational, space and funding needs. As part of this, work is underway to assess how else the project can help to address existing gaps in care, as well as the growing need for unique and targeted mental health and addictions supports for first responders.

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