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An image of a firefighter with an epic moustache smiling
New funding announcedImage by: Movember
An image of a firefighter with an epic moustache smiling
August 23, 2021

Movember funds new projects to support mental health of vets & first responders

Movember
4 minutes read time

Movember is excited to announce the projects from around the globe that will receive funding through the Veterans and First Responders Mental Health Grant Program.

The $7.51 million CAD initiative in support of veterans and first responders, as well as their families, is a collaboration between Movember and The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.

There is growing evidence that first responders [firefighters, paramedics, and police officers] and military veterans are at increased risk of poor mental health and suicide.

Although many programs that aim to support these groups already exist, a 2019 report commissioned by Movember and conducted by men’s health researcher Dr Don McCreary, found a lack of publicly available evidence showing the effectiveness of such programs.

Based on the report, Movember launched the Veterans and First Responders Mental Health Grant Program in September 2020, with the aim of identifying promising mental health or suicide prevention programs and collaborating with those projects to demonstrate their effectiveness through rigorous program evaluation.

Movember's Global Director of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Brendan Maher, says:

“We owe an enormous amount to our veterans and first responder communities. Through this initiative, Movember wants to help our grant funding partners prove that their programs are positively impacting mental health outcomes. We want to build the evidence for programs that truly make a difference to the lives of these men and their families.”

" We owe an enormous amount to our veterans and first responder communities. "

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride’s Founder and Director, Mark Hawwa, adds:

“These are people that over the last year and a half, in particular, have shown up on the front line every day, often putting themselves in harm’s way to keep our communities safe and well. We know the sacrifices our veterans and first responders continue to make, and with the support of Movember, we are excited to help folks within these communities to provide meaningful and impactful support. We are proud to be making a difference to those who dedicate their lives to us each and every day.”

The projects being supported are:

Canada:

  • A team from the University of Western Ontario will seek to prove whether Meaning-Centred Men’s Groups (MCMG) can be used to improve mental health and wellbeing in veterans and first responders in career transition.
  • The First Responder Resiliency Program (FRRP), developed by Canadian wellbeing organization Blueprint is a residential retreat for police and firefighters in British Columbia.
  • The OnCall app, developed by McMaster University, is a digital support tool designed by, and for public safety workers, including firefighters, paramedics, and police.
  • The Canadian Mental Health Association developed Resilient Minds which focuses on building strategies for firefighters’ own mental health, through peer support.

Australia:

  • Everymind, an Australian-based national institute, will adapt Minds Together, an early intervention initiative to address the needs of families and friends of paramedics who are experiencing poor mental health.
  • Flinders University in partnership with the Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation, will adapt PEREI (Protecting Emergency Responders with Evidence-based Interventions) Project, an eight-week wellbeing and resilience program, for early-career police and firefighters. The project builds on original research conducted by Oxford University with first responders in the UK.
  • Disaster Relief Australia will investigate the psychosocial benefits male veterans and first responders experience when they leave the military and participate in community volunteer programs.

Germany:

  • The RUPERT (Forum for Mental Health in the German Rescue Service) program, developed by Diskussionforum Depression e.V, is an online German-language forum directed to emergency service workers, as well as their families and dependents. Funding through the Gillette Partnership will develop the evidence for this early suicide-prevention intervention.

Ireland:

  • The SAFER Families/Friends study, led by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), aims to explore whether family members can be trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress in their first responder and to find support to manage their own mental wellbeing.

New Zealand:

  • Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s (FENZ)Whanaungatanga program, seeks to improve fire and emergency first responder wellbeing through organizational changes that promote connection, trust, and a strong sense of value and belonging.

United Kingdom:

  • The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Mental Wellbeing and Trauma Resilience Program comprises of five components which take a holistic approach to embed a culture of prevention and early intervention among police in Northern Ireland, their families, and the communities they serve.
  • The University of Leicester’s Resilient Senior Leaders Programme (RESLEAPS), funded through the Gillette Partnership, is a prevention program for police superintendents that expands on an earlier pilot of forces in England and Wales which fosters a trusting culture and creates a safe space to share concern.
  • The University of York will be implementing and evaluating their Behavioural Activation for Low mood and anxiety in Male NHS frontline workers (BALM) program. The BALM Program will utilize Behavioural Activation as an early mental health intervention for male NHS frontline workers. This program is supported through the Gillette Partnership.

United States:

  • Southcentral Foundation’s Soldiers Heart Program will reach firefighters and police in isolated communities in Alaska who are experiencing workplace mental health stress. The program, a six-day education retreat that incorporates cultural principles such as learning circles to share experiences, aftercare and support will be evaluated for effectiveness.
  • First Responder Center for Excellence will expand a web-based peer support program to reduce work-related stressors and lower suicide ideation among firefighters.