Funded BOS Organizational Onboarding Hub

Everything You Need to Know to Provide Your Staff with BOS

Thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Before Operational Stress (BOS) program is currently available to all Public Safety Personnel (PSP) and frontline healthcare workers. BOS is a resiliency-based program designed to empower frontline workers to take charge of their mental health. As we work to continue to understand operational stress, our research evidence shows us we can provide tools to help proactively cushion the impact of frontlinework. BOS can help PSP and frontline healthcare workers to perform their job while recognizing and managing the effects of stressors on their mental health. 

As a part of this project, all individuals are invited to participate in a research project evaluating the BOS program. The research is being conducted independently by researchers at the Canadian Institute of Public Research and Treatment (CIPSRT). Participation in the research is voluntary and is not a requirement for participation in the BOS program.

The BOS Team is Here to Help

BOS Delivery Modalities

Online Program. Self Paced and Self Scheduled. Full staff enrollment available. 

Eight-week, one-hour, video conference presented live by an expert mental health professional.

Eight weeks of two-hour group therapeutic intervention facilitated by a clinical psychologist.

BOS Program Outline

The first module is designed to define operational stress, operational stress injuries, compassion fatigue, moral injury, and other terms relevant to the mental health of PSP. The module also provides a brief overview of the history of Stoic service culture, when Stoicism can be helpful, and when Stoicism can be hurtful. Functional disconnection and reconnection (FD/FR) is introduced as a mechanism through which PSP can take an active role in transitioning between occupational and personal identities.

The second module focusses on brain development with emphasis on how the stress response has evolved to support the survival of our species. The discussion centers on the autonomic nervous system and its sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, hormonal dysregulation, and the impact that chronic stress can have on the brain.

The third module focusses on how unprocessed trauma can impact the nervous system, particularly in terms of dysregulation of the stress response, and describe OSIs as reflecting stress dysregulation. Participants learn how OSIs may manifest in hyper- or hypo- arousal of the nervous system as part of presenting the window of tolerance, and how to use the window of tolerance as a self-monitoring/self-awareness tool.

The fourth module is designed to highlight the connections between thoughts, emotions, and behaviours through a discussion of automatic thoughts, cognitive distortions, and cognitive biases. Facilitators emphasize the importance of monitoring thoughts and ways to disrupt unhelpful thinking patterns when they are noticed.

The fifth module is designed to increase emotional awareness, describe the purpose of emotions, and help participants understand how emotions can help make sense of experiences. Cultural and societal influences are discussed, followed by how cultural expectations can lead to the suppression of perceived unacceptable emotions.

The sixth module focusses on the role of avoidance in maintaining anxiety and post-trauma reactions, and how avoidance can interfere with the natural process of recovery. The concepts of habituation and in vivo exposure are introduced. Gradual exposure is proposed as a means of reducing problematic avoidance behaviours, with discussions of engagement strategies to increase self-efficacy.

The seventh module is designed to discuss how operational stress can negatively impact communication. Key communication skills are presented to enhance interpersonal understanding.

The eighth and final module is designed to introduce how empathy can be helpful to the individual and the community they serve but can also be a vulnerability during the PSP career. FD/FR is revisited as a strategy to balance the paradox of empathy. PSP are encouraged to draw upon different skills and values when engaged in occupational functions compared to personal roles. Self-awareness is necessary to differentiate these identities through an intentional, actionable process. PSP are encouraged throughout the final module to identify specific strategies they will employ to facilitate FD/FR.

Evidence-Based Publications

BOS Research Publication August 2021
Functional Disconnection and Reconnection March 2021

About Dr. McElheran, BOS Developer