What is it?

Operational Stress Injury (OSI) is best described as any persistent psychological difficulty resulting from operational duties performed while serving in the Canadian Forces or as a member of the RCMP. Difficulties may occur during combat duties, after serving in a war zone, in peacekeeping missions, or following other traumatic or serious events not specific to combat.

The Royal’s OSI Clinic is part of the Anxiety Disorders Program. The clinic also belongs to a national network of OSI clinics funded by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Common OSIs include, but are not limited to, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), other anxiety disorders, depression, substance use disorders and other conditions that may interfere with daily functioning.

"That's who I met and that's who I fell in love with, but that's not who came back from Africa."
Marcia Mills

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is one of the most common OSIs. Symptoms of PTSD include “reexperiencing” the event (in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts), avoiding thoughts, feelings, or situations that serve as reminders of the event, feeling ‘numb’ or cut off from others, being easily startled and being vigilant for signs of danger. Although these symptoms may onset directly following a traumatic experience, in other cases they may appear years later.

While it is considered normal to experience some form of distress after being exposed to a traumatic event, for some individuals, the symptoms persist. Help is available to those struggling with an OSI and studies indicate that the earlier help is sought, the better one’s recovery can be. However, it is never too late to seek treatment and evidence suggests that recovery is possible even for those with chronic symptoms.

OSI Mobile App

The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie, joined Dr. Raj Bhatla, Psychiatrist-in-Chief and Chief of Staff of The Royal, to launch the new mobile application.

Past Presentations

Treatments

Royal Ottawa Operational Stress Injury Clinic is a specialized outpatient program serving Canadian Forces Veterans and current members, and eligible members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Family members of clients may also be eligible to access these services.

A team of clinicians with expertise in the assessment and treatment of PTSD, anxiety, depression and addictions work in tandem to help clients improve their quality of life through a better understanding of the impact of severe stress and by enhancing coping skills. Consistent with the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre’s interdisciplinary model of treatment, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers provide comprehensive services for OSIs, including evidence-based comprehensive assessment, psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.

The following services are offered by the Royal Ottawa Operational Stress Injury Clinic:

  • Comprehensive assessment of operational stress injuries;
  • Evidence-based treatment of OSIs through specialized individual, group and couples therapy, as well as pharmacotherapy, and
  • Education to veterans, military members and their families, as well as to other professionals and the general public.

Evidence-based therapy for PTSD and other OSIs is tailored to meet each client’s specific needs and often includes a combination of medication and (group or individual) cognitive behavioural therapy. The OSI program’s comprehensive approach to recovery includes interventions aimed at improving readiness for treatment, symptom-reduction and assistance with transitioning back into the community. Each client may access different components of this comprehensive treatment package based on their symptoms at the time of their assessment. This tailored approach to treatment planning ensures that clients receive maximal benefit by matching services to clinical needs.

Outpatient Services

The Royal’s OSI Clinic offers individualized treatment according to each person’s needs through outpatient services. As every client’s needs are different, there is no set number of appointments for services at the clinic. Instead, each treatment plan is developed for each individual after a comprehensive assessment is complete. The treatment plan collaboratively establishes an initial commitment and a set of goals, and progress towards these goals is continuously monitored.

Because the OSI clinic is an outpatient, non-urgent service, we are not able to
accommodate drop-in appointments.

Referrals and Eligibility

To receive services at the clinic, Canadian Forces Veterans and RCMP members require a referral. Veterans are asked to discuss a referral with their VAC case manager. People without case managers may call 1.866.522.2122 (English) or 1.866.522.2022 (French) to inquire about their eligibility. Those who are still serving should contact their Base Medical Officer. RCMP members should speak with someone in Health Care Services for a referral. The Royal’s objective is to schedule an initial appointment within 15 business days of receiving a referral.

Veterans Affairs Canada, the Canadian Forces or the RCMP will determine whether you are eligible to receive services from the OSI Clinic. Once you have been referred, you will participate in a comprehensive assessment of your symptoms, and the clinical team will make treatment recommendations which may include treatment at the OSI Clinic or, in some cases, another clinical service.

Resources

For more information about The Royal’s Operational Stress Injury Clinic, please call 613.722.6521, ext. 6270.

The Operational Stress Injury Resource for Caregivers provides OSI education for family members and friends of people living with OSIs as well as self-care tools to support them in the role as caregiver.

Information on the network of OSI clinics and the Veterans Affairs Canada Mental Health Strategy can be found by visiting the VAC website.

Dates and locations for The Royal’s Public Lecture Series for Operational Stress Injury related information can be accessed here.

For more information about Operational Stress Injury, and various community services offered, contact:

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