London researchers get $2.8 million in funding to support mental health and wellbeing of Canadian health care workers


LONDON, ON - The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tangible impact on the mental health and wellbeing of Canadian health care workers, who have faced challenges that include increased workloads, resource constraints and fears of exposure to COVID-19.

Announced today, researchers out of Lawson Health Research Institute's MacDonald Franklin OSI Research Centre, have received $2.8 million in funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to launch a project that will support the mental health and wellbeing of Canadian health care workers. The project is titled “Promoting Resilience and Mental Health: Adapting Canada’s Department of National Defence Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) Program to Support Canadian Health Care Workers.”

The project will adapt the current Road to Mental Readiness Program, created for the Canadian Military. The aim is to identify mental health and wellness barriers in health care institutions, and create a streamlined framework that will build and promote supportive environments within institutions across the nation. 

“This program has been a personalized approach with the military, and we are now adapting it to focus on Canadian health care workers,” explains Dr. Anthony Nazarov, Associate Scientist at Lawson and the MacDonald Franklin OSI Research Centre at St. Joseph’s Health Care London. “We want to educate institutions to create an environment that supports wellness not just at the individual level, but at the institutional level as well.”

The project, which will span 14 months, will assist in the planning, adaptation and testing of the health care focused Road to Mental Readiness Program.

“One of the main reasons we felt this was necessary stems from a recent study our team conducted that focused on moral distress and the mental health of Canadian health care workers,” says Dr. Don Richardson, Lawson Scientist and Director of the MacDonald Franklin OSI Research Centre at St. Joseph’s. “Our preliminary study results found that many Canadian health care workers have been negatively impacted by the pandemic with conditions such as; posttraumatic stress disorder, stress and depression.” 

Once the research team has adapted the current Road to Mental Readiness Program, they will test it with health care workers to confirm its efficacy.

“We hope to have this type of resiliency program adopted by health care organizations across the country,” explains Dr. Richardson. “If proven effective, this would provide additional tools to health care workers to help them cope, improve their resiliency and hopefully mitigate future staff shortages.”

The funding is part of the federal 2021 budget which has committed an investment of $50 million over two years to support projects that address posttraumatic stress disorder and trauma in frontline and essential workers, and others affected by the pandemic. The nine projects announced, totaling an investment of $28.2 million, is the first round of projects being supported through this Budget 2021 commitment.

About Lawson Health Research Institute

Lawson Health Research Institute is one of Canada’s top hospital-based research institutes, tackling the most pressing challenges in health care. As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, our innovation happens where care is delivered. Lawson research teams are at the leading-edge of science with the goal of improving health and the delivery of care for patients. Working in partnership with Western University, our researchers are encouraged to pursue their curiosity, collaborate often and share their discoveries widely. Research conducted through Lawson makes a difference in the lives of patients, families and communities around the world. To learn more, visit

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Lawson Health Research Institute
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