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. This training program is 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 employees who may be experiencing a mental illness
  • Assist supervisors in maintaining their own mental health as well as promoting positive mental health in their employees

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TWMFR offers three versions of TWMFR: one for trainers (five days), one for leadership (eight hours), one for primary staff (four hours). These courses include scenario-based practical applications and custom videos of people with lived experience of mental illness, participant reference guides, and related handouts. Click here to view TWMFR Fact Sheet.

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

  • Stigma and barriers to care
  • Health coping strategies
  • Mental toughness
  • The Mental Health Continuum Model, a self-assessment tool with indicators of positive, poor, and declining mental health 
  • To enable continuous learning, booster sessions are also available (1-2hrs in length, focussing on one of the topics from the full course, and facilitated by a certified instructor. Booster sessions are intended only for participants who have taken the initial full course

Leadership (8 hour course): In addition to the topics covered in the primary 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 
  • Early recognition 
    *Booster sessions are also available for participants who have taken the initial full-day Leadership course. 

Train the Trainer (5-day course): This course equips participants with the tools and skills to present both the Primary and Leadership versions of TWMFR. The train-the-trainer course includes: 

  • Background information on mental health 
  • Extensive information on the key concepts of the Primary and Leadership course 
  • Structured presentation practice time
  • Evaluation of presentation skills by Master Trainers

Goals

  • To reduce stigma and negative attitudes towards those struggling with poor mental health
  • To provide first responders with a broad understanding of mental health and wellness
  • Help first responders maintain mental health and improve resilience
  • To promote mental health and wellness in the first responder community 
  • To provide leaders with the confidence, tools and resources to manage and support first responders who may be experiencing mental health problems or illness 

Objectives

The course's objective is to give first responders the practical knowledge of mental health and mental illness so they can:  

  • Use the mental health continuum to define mental health in themselves and others 
  • Be prepared to use skills to improve their coping and resiliency
  • Reduce both public and self-stigma
  • Be willing to be a part of a supportive environment

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.

Family Package 

The Working Mind First Responders Family Package is a companion piece to the TWMFR course. Delivered over 2.5 hours, this course targets adult family members over the age of 18  who's spouses or family members may have already taken the TWMFR training. 

The objectives of this training are to: 

  • help family members understand the purpose of the longer TWMFR program and the benefit for first responders 
  • identify how workplace stigma cultures can impact family mental health 
  • apply the mental health continuum model (an education and awareness tool) 
  • use the mental health continuum model to open a constructive dialogue about mental health with family members 

If you are interested in offering this program to family members of first responders, please contact us at theworkingmind@mentalhealthcommission.ca or 1.866.989.3764

Upcoming Courses 

To view and register for upcoming public courses, please click here. If you do not see a course that fits your needs, please contact us at theworkingmind@mentalhealthcommission.ca to discuss other options. 

Contact

To learn more about TWMFR and to book training for your organization, please email bd@mentalhealthcommission.ca

Research

The Working Mind First Responders (formerly known as R2MR): A Meta-Analysis of Program Outcomes

Implementation, Uptake, and Culture Change: Results of a Key Informant Study of a Workplace Mental Health Traniing Porgram in Police Organizations in Canada

Workplace Antistigma Programs at the Mental Health Commission of Canada: Part 2. Lessons Learned