Development of a Rapid Guideline to Address the Mental Health Impact of COVID‑19 Among Canadian Paramedics
Building upon existing collaborations and research, this initiative will mobilize solutions and expertise to develop a rapid guideline for the paramedic community to prevent and manage mental health injuries during and after the COVID‑19 public health crisis. The proposed guideline will help paramedic service organizations address the immediate and long-term impact of COVID‑19 and could be implemented using existing organizational resources. COVID‑19 was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization. Frontline healthcare workers, such as paramedics, are playing a vital role in maintaining public health and safety, and responding to calls, in the face of the COVID‑19 health crisis. Paramedics, however, are a high-risk worker group for developing mental health injuries due to a unique set of stressors. Paramedic service organizations have expressed their concern that the COVID‑19 pandemic will be an additional significant stressor for their frontline staff, further increasing the prevalence and severity of mental health injuries. They may also face challenges with staffing and service capacity because of absenteeism due to illness, quarantine, anxiety, concern over personal safety or safety of family members, or poorly equipped safety measures. Hence, effective prevention and management of mental health injuries require that paramedic service organizations develop harmonized and evidence-informed tools and guidelines to support their staff during a public health crisis. However, these tools and guidelines are absent, and are highly desired to support the mental health and wellness of paramedics, and ultimately to support the capacity required in maintaining the health and safety of the public they serve. The overall objective of this study will be addressed through three major project deliverables, in collaboration with industry stakeholders: 1) develop a draft mental health guideline related to COVID-19; 2) rapid and comprehensive evaluation of the draft guideline; and 3) review, finalize, disseminate, and maintain the guideline.