The Royal Ottawa Operational Stress Injury Clinic and Veterans Affairs Canada have developed a new mobile app for RCMP members, veterans and Canadian Armed Forces members who are coping with symptoms of operational stress injuries (OSIs).
The app, called OSI Connect, is a self-management, mobile learning tool that provides insight into the nature of OSIs.
"We wanted something that would be broadly accessible anywhere in the world," says Shelley Hale, the manager of the Royal Ottawa's OSI clinic. "We want people to know that services are out there, and they don't have to suffer in silence."
Information about the OSI clinic network, self-assessments and videos are just a few of the tools that the app offers. In particular, Hale says clients seem to like the OSI process steps that are featured.
"It demystifies the big concept of walking into a centre for mental health treatment," says Hale. "It breaks down the process, and it shows that the client is at the centre of it all and gets to actively participate."
OSI is an umbrella term used to describe any persistent psychological difficulty resulting from an operational- or service-related duty.
"We are all candidates for depression, anxiety or complicated grief," says Roxane Marois, chief psychologist for the RCMP. "Members are as vulnerable to mental health disorders as any one of us. It has nothing to do with character strength. It just means they are human."
Other OSIs include substance abuse disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Marois says that members shouldn't wait to get help if they are experiencing symptoms like difficulty sleeping, increased or decreased appetite, irritability or an extreme fluctuation in mood.
"Early intervention is directly linked to early recovery," says Marois. "And it's important to remember that consultation with professionals is completely confidential."
While the app doesn't replace conventional treatment, it can be a safe place for people to find critical information.
"Knowledge is power," says Hale. "OSI Connect gives people the ability to kind of remove themselves from having to verbally ask someone for help without knowing what they need or want or should be asking for."
The app is available for free download on smartphone devices.