The Working Mind First Responders

The Working Mind First Responders


December 12, 2018 - Mental Health Commission of Canada Announcement:  Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) becomes The Working Mind First Responders

In an ongoing effort to promote mental health and wellness, Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR), a training program focused on first responders, is now being repositioned under The Working Mind (TWM) as The Working Mind First Responders (TWMFR).


Mental illness, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Occupational Stress Injuries are on the rise in the fire service.  A shared goal for members of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, their employers and labour representatives is to ensure that supports are in place to prevent, and treat if necessary, those impacted by mental illness.  In recognizing this important need, the OAFC has partnered with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to implement the The Working Mind First Responders (TWMFR), a valuable and much needed mental health training program, into the fire service in the province of Ontario. The TWMFR course has been adapted from its original format in the Department of National Defence, and in the police sector, in partnership with the MHCC to fit the needs of the fire service.

TWMFR trained members will be able to recognize situations where they, or their peers, require intervention and/or assistance.  The program has been developed into a four-hour primary course and an eight-hour leadership course. A key component of TWMFR is to have all employees – support and operations, at all ranks, speaking the same language when presenting an assessment of a mental health concern.  It is a peer driven, proactive model with the intent to create a psychologically safe environment. TWMFR has a solid foundation in the concept of resilience.  Resilience is the ability to recover quickly, resist, and possibly even thrive in the face of direct/indirect traumatic events and adverse situations in training and operational environments.  Recovery from physical and mental hardships is required throughout a career in the fire service.

The four-hour TWMFR primary course provides learners with applications they can put into practice to develop and maintain their wellbeing.  It strives to balance education with a health focus while developing education that assists with understanding mental illness.  The goal of this training is to improve short term performance and long term mental health outcomes and also to reduce barriers to care and encourage early access to care.

The eight-hour TWMFR Leadership course provides the tools and resources required to manage and support employees who may be experiencing a mental illness.  This leadership training takes a strong foundation of promoting and maintain resilience in oneself and now applies this information to the leadership role.  Core concepts are taught more in-depth in a way that reflects the leadership responsibility.  Additional building blocks are added, namely leader actions, along the Mental Health Continuum Model.

Fast FactsContinuum Model

  • The Working Mind First Responders (TWMFR) is a program designed to reduce stigma and address and promote mental health and resiliency in a first responder workplace setting.
  • TWMFR is based on a program initially developed by the Department of National Defence and adapted for the special needs of a law enforcement/first responder audience. 
  • The main objectives of TWMFR are to reduce the stigma of mental illnesses, increase awareness of mental health, and offer resources to maintain positive mental health and increase resiliency. 
  • TWMFR training includes the mental health continuum model (figure 1). This is a self-assessment tool which provides participants with various indicators of positive, poor, and declining mental health.
  • The program helps employees in creating a supportive environment, strengthening the organizational culture, and contributing to a healthy workplace. 
  • It is offered as an 8-hour training session for supervisors and leaders and a 4-hour training session for those on the front lines.
  • TWMFR teaches participants how to use the “Big 4” — a set of evidenced-based, cognitive behavioural therapy 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.

Guidelines for Hosting a The Working Mind First Responders Course

In participation with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, all The Working Mind First Responders courses delivered in the province will be coordinated through the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs. 

Requirements and regulations for booking a course

  • All courses, whether internal or external, must be approved and coordinated through the OAFC board office through the TWMFR coordinator.  As part of our commitment to this program, its delivery, the quality and to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, this requirement is strictly enforced.
  • The 4-hour primary course and the 8-hour leadership course have a maximum amount of 24 fire service personnel allowed per session.
  • The 8-hour leadership course must be offered in the department before the primary course is offered.  This is so everyone is speaking the same language when it comes to this training.
  • The 8-hour leadership course is required to be instructed by 2 certified TWMFR trainers.
  • The 4-hour primary course requires only 1 certified TWMFR trainer.
  • The 8-hour leadership course may be separated into 2, 4-hour sessions providing the sessions are not more than 7 days apart.
  • The 4-hour primary course cannot be split into 2 sessions.
  • Hosting department must provide the OAFC with a list of internal and local mental health resources for the preparation of course materials.
  • The Mental Health Commission of Canada has final say in all course related decisions and delivery models.
  • This course is for those working in an Ontario fire service.  It cannot be delivered to other areas of your municipality, community or businesses.

The information below is the requirements and costs associated with the program delivery in your fire department.   There are four registration categories, departments must choose from when looking to book a course.

Internal 4-hour primary course:  Select this option if you have someone in your department that is a certified TWMFR trainer and you want to do the training within your own department  Cost:  $500.00

Internal 8-hour Leadership course:  Select this option if you have two certified TWMFR trainers in your department and you want to do the training within your own department.  Cost $625.00

Internal 8-hour leadership course with external instructor:  Select this option if you only have one certified TWMFR trainer in your department, you want to do this training in your own department, and require an external trainer.   Cost $875 plus instructor expenses.  Please note that dividing the 8-hour course will increase external instructor costs.

External 4-hour primary/8-hour leadership course:  Select this option if you do not have anyone in your department that is a certified TWMFR trainer.  4-hour primary is $625.00 plus expenses.  8-hour leadership is $1125.00 plus expenses.  Please note that dividing the 8-hour course will increase instructor costs.

How to Book a Course

To book an TWMFR course in your department, or zone or region, please visit our online TWMFR course booking form available by clicking on the applicable link below.   Please refer to the categories, as outlined above, for booking instructions and to make the following selection:

TWMFR External Course Booking Request Form

TWMFR Internal Course Booking Request Form

Questions can be forwarded to the TWMFR course coordinator, Laura Aivaliotis at 905-426-9865 x1230 or by email to