Kitchener-Waterloo

Wilfrid Laurier, Guelph researchers receive grants to study PTSD in public safety workers

Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University and McMaster University are receiving grants from the federal government toward identifying, treating and preventing post-traumatic stress injuries in public safety workers.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research offering grants up to $150K to 22 researchers

Dr. Margaret McKinnon is the chair in mental health and trauma at the Homewood Research Institute in Guelph, and an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster University. (Homewood Research Institute)

Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University and McMaster University are receiving grants from the federal government toward identifying, treating and preventing post-traumatic stress injuries in public safety workers.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is investing a total of $11 million dollars in PTSI research, including 22 one-year grants of up to $150,000.

Dr. Margaret McKinnon is a professor at McMaster University and works with the Homewood Research Institute in Guelph. She has been studying goal management training, a program designed to help improve quality of life for people who have experienced trauma.

"We know that many people with PTSD struggle with cognitive difficulties, yet often these cognitive difficulties go untreated," McKinnon told CBC News.

"People can be left feeling that if there's something wrong with their intelligence as if they're stupid when in fact these difficulties are very remediable."

McKinnon previously received funding with the Homewood Institute to offer goal management training in outpatient clinics for military members in Toronto and London.

McKinnon said the $150,000 CIHR grant will help bring the treatment to 64 public safety personnel.

Study to look at resilience in police forces

Eliana Barrios Suarez, an associate professor of social work at Wilfrid Laurier University, is also receiving money to study post-traumatic stress injuries in police forces.

"There has been previous research examining post-traumatic stress symptoms such as depression, anxiety and substance use, but what makes our project different is that we will focus on resilience – how some people remain functioning well despite exposure to similar stress," Suarez said in a media release.

The research will begin in March with an online survey, in-depth interviews and community forums, examining how police officers across the province receive mental health information and resources.

"We hope our research and the stories of resilience people are willing to share will help create more understanding and support for occupational stress injuries," Suarez said.

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