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The Working Mind First Responders

The Working Mind First Responders (TWMFR), formerly known as Road to Mental Readiness, is an education-based program designed to address and promote mental health and reduce the stigma of mental illness in a first-responder setting.

The Working Mind First Responders Virtual​

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What is The Working Mind First Responders (TWMFR)?

An adaptation of The Working Mind, The Working Mind First Responders is a training program aimed to:

  • Improve short-term performance and long-term mental health outcomes;
  • Reduce barriers to care and encourage early access to care;
  • Provide the tools and resources required to manage and support first responders who may be experiencing a mental illness; and
  • Assist supervisors in maintaining their own mental health as well as promoting positive mental health in their employees.

Goals

  • To support the mental health and wellbeing of first responders
  • To enable the full productivity of employees
  • To ensure the workplace is respectful and inclusive of all employees, including those with mental health problems and mental illness
  • To encourage first responders to seek help for mental health problems and mental illness

Objectives

  • To examine the effects of mental health problems and mental illness in the workplace
  • To help first responders identify indicators of declining and poor mental health in themselves and others
  • To introduce the concept of the Mental Health Continuum Model
  • To review employees’, managers’, and employers’ mental health rights and responsibilities
  • To provide strategies to maintain good mental health

Central Components

  • The Mental Health Continuum Model, which categorizes one’s mental health within a continuum: green (healthy), yellow (reacting), orange (injured), and red (ill).
    • Allows individuals to identify indicators of declining or pool mental health in themselves, and others (without diagnostic labels and their associated stigma)
    • Stresses that individuals can move along the continuum; if one ends up in the red “ill” phase, he or she can move back towards the green “healthy phase”
    • Teaches the appropriate action one can take for themselves and for others at each point along the continuum.continuum headers
  • Big 4” — a set of evidenced-based, cognitive behavioural therapy-based techniques that help individuals cope with stress and improve their mental health and resiliency. The Big 4 are positive self-talk, visualization, tactical breathing, and SMART goal setting.
  • Research indicates that contact-based education is one of the best ways of reducing stigma. TWMFR includes custom videosof people with mental illnesses describing some of their experiences with mental illness and stigma, as well as those who supported them and their journey to recovery. Click here to read our preliminary evaluations report.

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Three tailored course options

Primary

Primary (4 hour course), where participants are provided with valuable information, skills, tools and resources specific to:

  • Stigma and barriers to care;
  • Healthy coping strategies;
  • Mental toughness; and
  • The Mental Health Continuum Model, a self-assessment tool with indicators of positive, poor, and declining mental health. (Example of the Continuum Model featured below)

Leadership

Leadership (8 hour course), where in addition to the topics covered in the employee course, leaders acquire tools and skills specific to:

  • Workplace accommodations and return to work;
  • The role of leadership in promoting positive mental health in employees;
  • Ad hoc incident reviews; and
  • Early recognition.

Train the Trainer

Train the Trainer (5-day course)

  • In an effort to promote sustainability, TWMFR is to be delivered as a 5-day, train-the-trainer model where participants become facilitators and deliver both training packages (8-hour and 4-hour) to their co-workers.
  • We recommend that organizations develop a roll out plan for implementation once the train-the-trainer session is complete.
  • Leaders are recommended to take the training before employees, or close to the employees taking it for consistency of content and discussions.
  • Facilitators are encouraged host workshops within a month of completing the train-the-trainer sessions.
  • Primary and Leadership courses should be limited to 24 participants to allow for full discussion.

Recent Blog Posts

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If there was ever a need for crisis training, it was during the onset of COVID-19. That’s one reason the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) stepped into the breach by offering virtual training to more than 5,139 essential workers, who took over 574 courses between April and October.

Related Case Studies

Toronto Education Workers Local 4400 (TEW) is made up of approximately 17,000 education workers working primarily within the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). TEW is also home to childcare workers from various childcare centres and caretakers from Viamonde French Board, representing over 400 job classifications and over 1,000 worksites

The OAFC introduced The Working Mind First Responders (TWMFR) program, which is designed to promote mental health and wellness while reducing the stigma around mental illness in first-responder settings. Individuals who take the training learn how to improve their short- and long-term mental health outcomes and reduce barriers to care.

In 2021, WestJet teamed up with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to introduce The Working Mind (TWM) to their leaders. TWM is an evidence-based program designed to promote mental health and reduce the stigma around mental illness in the workplace.