Deployment Cycle

Soldier wearing a fragmentation vest.

Combat Camera

Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) training is like a psychological frag vest; you use the information and skills provided to armor yourself. This analogy is about equipment, not about keeping “everything out”, it is about using the skills (equipment) provided. You need to use the information for it to be effective (put on vest). Sometimes there are vulnerabilities in the armor (chink in the armor) and you could still be impacted even if you use the information and skills provided during this training – training is not a guarantee of protection but it can help. Research is pretty certain about the role of resilience training effects on short term performance but more uncertain about the effects on long-term well-being. The one piece of this analogy that doesn't work is that the main goal of the frag vest is not really to preserve performance (though it certainly does so) but instead to prevent death (that is, long-term health). Also, frag vests save your life but are uncomfortable to wear. Resilience training enhances performance AND makes you feel better at the same time.

Pre-Deployment Training

"I am not only more confident in my ability to manage what may happen on deployment myself, after taking this training I am more confident in my buddies' ability to take care of me should something bad happen."- Cpl preparing for his first deployment

The R2MR Pre-deployment training package is designed to be delivered in three separate phases:

  • Phase One delivered to troops in a classroom setting in garrison early in the pre-deployment training cycle
  • Phase Two delivered to troops using a combination of instruction and practical application during operational exercise
  • Phase Three delivered to families of deploying troops in garrison prior to departure for operation.

Upon completion of this program soldiers will be able to:

  • Understand stress reactions
  • Identify challenges and their impact
  • Learn and apply strategies to mitigate impact
  • Recognize when to seek external support

Post-Deployment Training

"They finally have a program to help the soldiers, as this was not available after my last six deployments. The material was relevant and interesting. I now know what to expect when returning home and know what to look for in myself and others. It was an excellent lead-in prior to returning to Canada."- CAF personnel describing Third Location Decompression

The R2MR Post-deployment training package is designed to be delivered in two separate phases:

  • Phase Four delivered to troops during Third Location Decompression (TLD)
  • Phase Five delivered to families during Home Location Decompression (HLD)

Upon completion of this program soldiers and their families will be able to:

  • To understand common transitional phase challenges during re-integration
  • To learn and apply strategies that may assist in overcoming reintegration challenges
  • To identify stress reactions that may require external support
  • To recognize and challenge barriers to seeking care
  • To identify external resources of support

R2MR Follow Up

"A good evolution over the past 10 years. The services offered meet the needs of our members."- CAF member describing post deployment screening

While the primary purpose of the screening is to promptly identify and offer treatment to those who have deployment-related health problems, the screening serves other purposes as well:

  • Providing feedback, guidance, education, and advice on the reintegration process (or other life problems/issues that come up during the interview). This includes providing information on potential signs of trouble that may emerge after the screening along with CAF and community resources to address these.
  • Screening for mental or physical health problems that may be totally unrelated to deployment.
  • Demystifying and de-stigmatizing mental illness and mental health care.

Click on the following links for more information on the R2MR Follow Up package:


Health Care Provider

The Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) training package has been developed at the request of Chief of Military Personnel and the Surgeon General, under guidance and direction from the Mental Health Education Advisory Committee (MH EAC), and through the cooperation of Land Force Doctrine Training System, Canadian Forces Health Services, Mental Health & Operational Stress Injury Joint Speakers Bureau, Defence Research and Development Canada, Department of Military Family Services and other key stakeholders. R2MR is a pre and post deployment training program, the goal of which is to improve short term performance and long term mental health outcomes for CAF personnel and their families.

The R2MR training package is based upon evidence based material already in existence including PERM, First Aid for the Warrior Mind, as well as material developed by our allies in the US Marine Corps, Army and Navy Seals and sports psychology. However, as the science behind the mitigation of operational stress is continually evolving, evaluation is built into the program throughout all of the training phases to allow for ongoing monitoring of effectiveness and quality assurance.

The training package is centred on the Canadian experience and is designed to be co-delivered by clinicians and peers. It is delivered by qualified personnel – a senior NCO with operational experience in partnership with an experienced Mental Health clinician – ideally sourced from the area responsible for generating the task force. This combination lends instant credibility to the material being delivered, and significantly enhances buy-in from participants. The R2MR training package is dynamic and involves the participants in discussion that brings to bear the overall experience of the group in addition to the knowledge of the instructors. The adult education model and training for instructors also leverages the deployment experiences of participants to maximize knowledge transfer.

The R2MR training package is a tailored intervention, and as such it is timed appropriately with respect to the deployment cycle (different interventions at the most appropriate time) and the content is matched to the demonstrated needs of the CAF population. As a means to describe this, the analogy of the deployment cycle as a highway is utilized. The deployment highway is a visual aid that depicts an overview of the deployment experience for both CAF personnel and their families – and overlays the R2MR phases to situate them. R2MR recognizes the importance that families play in sustaining the well-being of CAF personnel who are deployed, and the stressors that deployment also places on them; as such, families are also provided with the information required to assist them and this information is consistent with the training their loved ones receive. The breakdown of the R2MR training package includes:

Pre-deployment Training

Phases 1 and 2 are delivered to CAF personnel in the pre-deployment training cycle (Road to High Readiness). Phase 1 is an eight hour interactive briefing focussed on identifying and understanding stress reactions and learning key stress management strategies to manage these reactions. You will find an in-depth overview of this training as well as a more detailed description of the content on this website. Phase 2 is an opportunity to have personnel practice the skills so that they are readily accessed during times of stress and become part of the routine for troops. For example, during an exercise, personnel may be reminded to breathe deeply, or to visualize the task ahead of them. The focus here is on providing useful and easily accessible material to the leadership who can assist their subordinates to fully integrate the knowledge and skills taught in Phase 1.

Phase 3 is delivered to families of deploying CAF members. It is a three hour briefing delivered through their local Military Family Resource Centre or through online training. This training is consistent with the skills and information provided to CAF personnel pre-deployment, but geared towards the needs and deployment challenges of the families. You will find an in-depth overview of this training and on this website.

Post-deployment

Phase 4 Third Location Decompression (TLD) is delivered to CAF personnel during their decompression training. Phase 4 consists of two 2-hour briefings of which the focus is to provide CAF personnel information on the common transitional and reintegration challenges they may encounter and strategies to overcome these, as well as information regarding when to seek extra support and what resources are available should they have difficulties post-tour. You will find an in-depth overview of this training as well as a more detailed description of the content on this website.

Phase 5 mirrors TLD and is referred to as Home Location Decompression (HLD). This three hour briefing is provided to family members through their local Military Family Resource Centre or online prior to the return of their loved one. Again the content focuses specifically on identification and management of transition/reintegration challenges, and signs and symptoms that may indicate further assistance is required. You will find an in-depth overview of this training on this website.

Phase 6 involves enhanced follow-up screening for CAF personnel 3 - 6 months after the deployment. You will find a detailed description of this screen procedure on this website.

It should also be noted that the evidence-based content of the R2MR program has also been integrated into career cycle mental health education through collaboration with Canadian Defence Academy (CDA) and Land Force Doctrine Training Systems (LFDTS), from the basic recruit level up to the Combat Team Commander’s Course. As such, elements of this training have been institutionalized to ensure that CAF personnel have the knowledge and skills required to enhance performance and sustain long-term health outside of the deployment cycle. Furthermore, as many CAF personnel suffer from mental health issues that are not operationally related, this training focuses not only on operational stress but also on non-operationally related stress and mental health problems. Non-OSI mental health problems cause similar functional deficits and have similar prognoses as many OSIs, and for that reason they have the same implications with respect to readiness, operational effectiveness, force sustainability and overall well-being.

As discussed above, all R2MR and career cycle mental health training is provided by trained, credible facilitators. As such, in order to teach this material both operators and clinicians must attend a qualifying course. There are various Train-the-Trainer (TtT) courses depending on which curriculum one is seeking to teach. During the TtT course, participants are taught the background information necessary to deliver the curriculum both in the area of mental health and adult education. Prior to completion of the course, participants are evaluated to ensure competency in both delivery skills and content knowledge; only those who achieve a level of “skilled or above” acquire the qualification to teach the material. Furthermore, lectures are audited to ensure consistency of messaging, and further coaching, mentoring and training is provided as necessary. The training, oversight and monitoring is provided jointly between the Directorate of Mental Health and the MH & OSI Joint Speakers Bureau. Should you have an interest in attending any of the Train-the-Trainer courses you can contact the Directorate of Mental Health Training and Education cell.

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