PSPNET is a clinical research unit located at the University of Regina in partnership with the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) that delivers and conducts research on various aspects of Internet-delivered Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (ICBT) for Public Safety Personnel (PSP), including first responders. The Principal Investigator of PSPNET is Dr. Heather Hadjistavropoulos from the University of Regina. The co-investigator is Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton from the University of Regina and Scientific Director of CIPSRT. The team is made up of clinicians and researchers. Our mission is to develop, implement, evaluate, and optimize accessible, secure, ICBT programming tailored to meet the needs of current and former PSP, such as border security agents, correctional workers, call centre operators/dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, and police, in all positions.
The aim of ICBT is to assist PSP including first responders in improving their mental health and wellbeing. PSPNET will provide service to all PSP who are suffering from challenges related to depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress. The pilot project combines online learning modules with weekly support from a therapist by secure email or telephone. PSPNET specifically makes use of ICBT programs that were initially developed at Macquarie University in Australia and then researched by the Online Therapy Unit in Saskatchewan. We offer two programs. One is called the PSP Wellbeing Course which is appropriate for clients who have diverse mental health concerns. The other is called the PSP PTSD Course and is more specific to clients who are primarily concerned with symptoms of posttraumatic stress. The ICBT programs have been specifically tailored to meet the needs of PSP.
The Government of Canada’s National Action Plan on Posttraumatic Stress Injuries identified the need for greater access to care and treatment for PSP, especially those in remote and rural areas. As part of that commitment, funding was provided to develop ICBT for PSP, including first responders. PSPNET is funded by the Government of Canada – Public Safety Canada.
In 2020, PSPNET began to offer and evaluate ICBT in Saskatchewan and Quebec in English and French. As of October 2021, we are now offering PSPNET in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Our team is funded until 2023, however, we are presently working on a sustainability plan to continue to offer services beyond 2023.