What is ECHO PSP?

ECHO Public Safety Personnel (PSP) is a pilot tele-mentoring program that aims to build the confidence and skills of Ontario care providers in supporting the mental well-being of public safety personnel (PSP), including firefighters, paramedics, police, corrections and communications personnel. 

ECHO is an innovative model of mentoring that increases care provider capacity to improve health and community outcomes, particularly in remote, rural and underserved areas. It uses an “all-teach, all-learn” approach where care providers meet weekly via videoconference for case-based discussions guided by a team of interprofessional experts and they receive recommendations on cases to enable them to care for patients in their own communities. Learn more about the ECHO model.

The ECHO PSP program:

  • applies the ECHO model to assist Ontario care providers to support the mental well-being of PSP 
  • includes an evaluation of the program's effectiveness in increasing care provider capacity to support PSP in recovery, return to work and stay at work
  • is being developed, implemented and evaluated by a team of researchers based at the Institute for Work & Health and University of Toronto (learn more about the research team)
  • is a two-year pilot funded through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Grant Program

Who is ECHO PSP for?

ECHO PSP is for Ontario care providers who want to learn about best practices to better support their public safety personnel (PSP) patients/clients. Care providers that can benefit from the program include psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychotherapists, family physicians, registered nurses, and more -- any care providers who support the mental well-being of PSP.

It's for care providers who want to:

  • experience a learning approach that sticks
  • share their experience and knowledge with others
  • make new connections that last
  • obtain CE credits

To participate in ECHO PSP, providers must:

  • be licensed to practice in Ontario (students in a relevant programs are welcome)
  • consider presenting a patient/client case during a 12-week cycle, if applicable
  • be able to communicate in English

Why is ECHO PSP needed?

Care providers play a pivotal role in supporting the mental well-being of PSP and helping them return to or stay at work. However, providers receive little training on how to effectively improve these health and work outcomes. As a result, there are few opportunities to learn about complex factors that contribute to the onset and persistence of mental health concerns in this population.

Many providers experience difficulty dealing with workplaces, workers’ compensation and other insurers and have not learned effective means to communicate with them about diagnoses or recovery expectations. They may also lack opportunities to turn to colleagues for advice, especially those working in solo clinics or in remote, rural or underserved communities.

The ECHO PSP program addresses these gaps by providing a forum for care providers to present complex patient/client cases and receive best practice advice from specialists and other ECHO participants. 

How does ECHO PSP work?

The ECHO PSP pilot is being implemented in two cycles: one in Fall 2023 and one in Spring 2024. 

Each cycle comprises 12 videoconference sessions. Each session includes an expert-led didactic and a case discussion component in which participating care providers discuss their patient/client cases and receive recommendations from experts and each other about how to manage them.

Participants must register to attend. Registration is free. See the program overview for details.

How was the ECHO PSP program developed?

The project team began developing the pilot ECHO PSP program in January 2023. It involved three main steps:  

  • an assessment of care provider needs to inform a PSP-specific ECHO curriculum
  • recruitment of members for the "expert hub" to guide the ECHO PSP sessions, including professionals in psychology, psychiatry, occupational therapy, chronic pain, occupational health and safety, and workers' compensation
  • consultations with the ECHO Ontario Superhub to ensure fidelity with the ECHO model in delivering didactics, discussing cases and providing recommendations to care providers

How is ECHO PSP being evaluated?

Over the course of the pilot, the ECHO PSP research team will be conducting an evaluation of the feasibility and acceptability of ECHO PSP in Ontario. In particular, the team will assess the ability of the program to:

  • build the confidence and skills of care providers to support the mental well-being of PSP 
  • improve communication between care providers, insurers, and workplace parties
  • improve access to care in remote and underserved communities
  • remain true to the ECHO model

The results of the ECHO PSP pilot project evaluation will be made available on this website.