June 27, 2022
Significant funding to provide mental health support to frontline workers across Canada was announced today by Canada’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett.
The commitment features a primary grant of $9.01 million, through the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina, to Wayfound Mental Health Group to deploy its Before Operational Stress (BOS) program to more than 100,000 nurses, paramedics, police officers and others in security roles, firefighters, health aides, physicians, and corrections officers.
BOS was developed by Calgary-based Wayfound and has been provided to public safety personnel and frontline workers in partnership with Wounded Warriors Canada since 2018. Researchers at CIPSRT have been independently evaluating the BOS program since 2018 as well. The program links cutting-edge clinical approaches with scientific expertise to support the psychological health and wellness of frontline personnel over the course of their careers.
Dr. Megan McElheran, Clinical Psychologist and CEO of Wayfound said, “We are truly honoured to deploy the BOS program, with the potential to impact thousands of frontline workers in Canada who have supported us through the pandemic and who provide essential services to our communities every day.”
McElheran recognized the ongoing partnership and sponsorship of Wounded Warriors Canada, “who have played such a pivotal role in deploying BOS since its inception.”
As well, McElheran recognized Wayfound’s extraordinary partnership with CIPSRT at the University of Regina.
“The independent evaluation of the BOS program by CIPSRT since 2018 has demonstrated the effectiveness of the BOS program, and the current project will allow continued evaluation of the program and its benefits.”
Today’s funding announcement will see BOS offered in three ways: BOS Online, which participants complete at their own pace; BOS Peer, an eight-week version of the program delivered virtually to groups of frontline workers; and BOS Intensive, eight weeks of two-hour group therapeutic intervention for individuals who would benefit from a more in-depth focus on the material taught in the program.
“The data so far has demonstrated that public safety personnel and frontline workers can learn tools to minimize the psychological impacts of their work, so they can continue to provide the necessary services of their work while maintaining psychological wellness,” said McElheran. “These employees are inevitably exposed to high levels of operational stress, but that does not mean they should be destined to have their lives negatively impacted by the psychological effects of their work.”
Scott Maxwell, Executive Director of Wounded Warriors, spoke to the benefits of BOS evidenced by the joint work to date of Wayfound and Wounded Warriors.
“Many of these individuals were already struggling and, through BOS, they learned how to look out for themselves, and to reach out for help far earlier. That is what has been missing for all too long, for so many working in these front-line positions.”
Originally known as WGM (the founder’s initials), Wayfound was founded in Calgary, Alberta in 1999 by William Gordon McElheran. He was joined by his daughter Dr. Megan McElheran in 2007. Today, she leads the company, which employs more than 30 clinicians in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and Toronto. Wayfound has become widely known as a pre-eminent trauma treatment clinic and service in Canada.
PR & Communications Specialist