Initially designed for members of the Canadian Armed Forces by the Department of National Defence, Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) addresses stigmas and identifies the signs and symptoms of occupational stress injuries. The goal of R2MR is to improve short-term performance and long-term mental health outcomes.
The R2MR training program uses a mental health continuum model that identifies signs and symptoms associated with four stages of functioning: healthy, reacting, injured and ill.
“We want firefighters to understand that there is no shame in admitting that they need help,” said Tim Beckett, Fire Chief, Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services. “It is essential that all first responders are prepared mentally for the challenges that they will encounter on the job. This course will give firefighters the tools they need to recognize a potential issue in themselves and others.”
According to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, a Canadian charitable organization that tracks the suicide rate of first responders, 39 first responders took their own lives in 2015. Already in 2016, three first responder deaths have been contributed to suicide. Due to the obvious need for support, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) partnered with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to bring this mental health program to its members.
According to OAFC, R2MR trained members will be able to recognize situations where they or their peers require intervention and/or assistance. The program has been developed into a four-hour primary course and an eight-hour leadership course.
The first and second round of train-the-trainer courses for R2MR will take place from February 1 to 5 and February 8 to 12 at Mississauga’s Garry W. Morden Centre, added Beckett. The training will include firefighters from across the province that will become certified to teach this program to fire services throughout Ontario.