PolicyWise for Children & Families and OSI-CAN Alberta worked together to enhance mental health supports for Military, Community First Responder, and Public Safety Personnel
When brought together, collaboration and data can tremendously impact the programs and services provided by social profit organizations. They have the power to lead an organization to make wise decisions that can affect social change. Programs can be evaluated and then tailored to meet the specific needs of a group. Organizations can discover how to enhance their service delivery or strengthen the capacities of their staff.
PolicyWise for Children & Families believes in the power of collaborating with others and using data to ensure children, youth, families, and communities can thrive. We work with organizations of all sizes to enhance practices, programs, and policies that support health and well-being. In particular, we specialize in collaborating with small and medium-sized social profit organizations to enhance their data management practices, using our research, data analysis, and evaluation expertise.
One of our recent small organization partnerships was with OSI-CAN Alberta. They are a remarkable group dedicated to providing mental health support for current and former military members, first responders, and public safety personnel. OSI-CAN Alberta offers invaluable peer group support to these individuals who face occupational stress injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
OSI-CAN Alberta recognized that to enhance and expand their programs, they needed to tell their story to funders better so that they could sustain and expand their services. They also knew they had to understand more about the people they serve. Jody Wolfe, a Research and Policy Manager at PolicyWise, remembers this relationship started around a shared goal “to make the program as strong as it can be for [OSI-CAN Alberta’s] clients.” Understanding the diverse backgrounds of their clients, whether firefighters, EMS staff, or military personnel, would help them to tailor the peer group supports they provide.
This was the point where our collaborative journey with OSI-CAN Alberta began. Together, we developed an evaluation plan to enable OSI-CAN Alberta to delve deeper into their programs’ effectiveness. Michael Skinner, OSI-CAN Alberta’s Provincial Coordinator, found this collaborative approach to be “clear and concise.”
Our shared goals for this evaluation plan were, first, to assess OSI-CAN Alberta’s current evaluation process. This included reviewing their current surveys and identifying areas for improvement. Next, we developed an evaluation framework. This process involved helping OSI-CAN Alberta define their goals and the impact they hoped to have on their clients.
To gather insights directly from OSI-CAN Alberta’s clients, we worked with them to build a survey tool to capture their perspectives. This would allow OSI-CAN Alberta to understand what works for their clients and how they contribute to their recovery.
Finally, we assisted OSI-CAN Alberta in applying good data management practices. This was crucial as OSI-CAN Alberta needed to ensure that the data they collected about their clients remained private and confidential.
Upon completing these shared goals for the evaluation plan, OSI-CAN Alberta will be able to know the demographics of their clients more thoroughly. According to Michael, they’re “going to be able to better understand what it is that [our clients] need so that we can continually learn as a program and implement those changes to better support them going forward.”
Our collaboration has been a rewarding experience. It has been marked by shared values and a commitment to advancing the mental health supports for those who have dedicated their lives protecting our communities. The seamless integration of PolicyWise’s research, data analysis, and evaluation expertise with OSI-CAN Alberta’s dedicated efforts to provide invaluable peer group support for individuals facing occupational stress injuries built a strong relationship founded on mutual respect.
According to Jason Trenholm, OSI-CAN Alberta’s Provincial Services Coordinator, one of the best parts of working together was that our team took the time to learn about their program before diving in and starting to create “something that may or may not have worked without that knowledge.” Many conversations were had to ensure we firmly grasped OSI-CAN’s programs and needs.
The success of the collaboration between PolicyWise and OSI-CAN Alberta is reflected not only in the positive outcomes achieved but also in the foundation it has laid for future endeavours. The strength of our partnership lies not only in the results we’ve achieved together but also in the potential for ongoing collaboration that will make a lasting impact on the lives of those who sacrifice so much for our communities. As we reflect on the accomplishments of this collaboration, we look forward to a future where our shared commitment to well-being continues to drive meaningful and lasting change.
We were honoured to work alongside OSI-CAN Alberta and provide our expertise so they can better support the well-being of current and former military members, first responders, and public safety personnel. We used the power of data-driven evaluation to make a difference in the lives of those who serve and protect our communities.
If you are a current or former military member, first responder, or frontline protector struggling with your mental health and well-being, we encourage you to visit OSI-CAN Alberta’s website. They offer a range of peer and professional support groups and programs designed to meet your needs.
For immediate mental health support, OSI-CAN Alberta recommends contacting the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642 or the CMHA Distress Line at 780-482-4357 (HELP). In case of an immedate emergency, please call 911.