In partnership with the BC Professional Firefighters Association (BCPFFA) and the BC Police Association (BCPA), Blueprint is proud to share we have received funding provided by Movember Canada through the charity’s Veterans and First Responders Mental Health Grant Program in the amount of $426,580 over two years.
“We’re very excited to have received this funding from Movember to support first responder mental health. This funding allows us to continue our work the BCPFFA and BCPA to deliver and further strengthen our resilience and mental health program, which ensures support for first responders across British Columbia,” said Dr. Duncan Shields, co-founder of Blueprint and clinical lead for the First Responder Resilience Program (FRRP). The resilience program was developed by Blueprint and built for first responders, by first responders. It is an in-person retreat-based program designed to enhance the psychological resilience of police and firefighters and to equip them with the tools and skills to enhance their capacity to respond to stress at any stage of their career.
The symptoms of psychological disorders in first responders, are 4X higher than in the general public with as many as 44% of Canadian first responders developing behavioral health conditions such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide ideation (CIPSRT, 2018). For fire and police, these symptoms are often a direct result of the work-related exposures to traumatic situations. Adding complexity to these challenges, traditional norms of masculinity and the need to project a ‘strong, stoic image’ are often leveraged in training and are essential on an operational call. However, this learned approach may inadvertently perpetuate a myth of unaffected service and contribute to self-stigma, which interferes with social support and help seeking. Blueprint engages in these very topics, addressing cultural stigma and socialization factors as barriers to well-being.
The current program began in 2017 as a partnership with the BCPFFA. Initially, we were approached to co-develop an upstream mental health support program for their 4,000 members in response to a series of high-profile suicides in the BC fire community. In 2019, motivated by reports from first responder participants, the British Columbia Police Association (BCPA) joined the collaboration alongside the BCPFFA, supporting the ongoing development of the program for their 3,000 frontline police officers across British Columbia.
The focus on ‘resilience’ was identified as a target by participants as it is a term that is free from some of the stigma currently associated with mental supports in these communities. Through the program, our aim is to enhance first responders ability to not only prepare for and recover from the adversity and changing demands of their work, but to thrive. And in turn, become leaders of cultural change within their own organizations. The model is designed to complement existing workplace and public mental health services, and offers a low threshold and low stigma port of entry for those seeking skills or support.
Blueprint is dedicated to men’s well-being and enhancing their positive contribution to families and communities. Blueprint was founded in 2015 at the University of British Columbia in partnership with the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, the UBC + VGH Foundation, and the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation with generous support from the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation and the Mohseni Foundation.
Blueprint humbly acknowledges that we live and work on the unceded traditional & overlapping territories of the Matsqui, Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Musqueam, Squamish, & Tsleil-Waututh Nations. We strive to do our work with a collaborative spirit of reconciliation; respect & honour for the land, its peoples & their ancestors.
Link to Movember funding announcement: https://ca.movember.com/story/movember-funds-new-projects-to-support-mental-health-of-vets-and-first-responders