Health and Wellness

Government Supports Study of Horse Therapy Programs

Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole, today announced funding for two new research studies on the effectiveness of horse therapy for veterans with mental health conditions.

The studies will help develop an evidence base on equine therapy for veterans with mental health conditions, proving if the therapy is relevant and effective.

“The Government of Canada is committed to exploring treatment and therapy options for Veterans with operational stress injuries like PTSD. Research studies like these help us understand the treatment better to determine when and where equine therapy could be used as part of a treatment regime for a Veteran. This is part of our Government’s major focus on mental health treatments and supports, including the national network of operational stress injury clinics to support Veterans and their families,” said O’Toole.

The Canadian Institute of Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) will receive $250,000 to conduct an Equine Assisted Intervention Study.

Can Praxis will receive $25,000 to continue its equine research. Can Praxis’ new research study will build on its own 2013 equine therapy pilot study.

Both studies will assist in establishing an evidence base on the use of equine therapy for veterans with mental health conditions.

“The CIMVHR welcomes the interest and support of Veterans Affairs Canada and the Government of Canada in research for equine therapy.  Research into the effectiveness of animal-assisted interventions will provide more evidence about treatments available to veterans to assist them with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions. Ultimately, the research will provide information on the effectiveness of this treatment for symptom management, and guidance as to its appropriateness for veteran’s mental health treatment. As always, CIMVHR is committed to working with veterans to identify innovative, evidence-based therapies to help them with all of their health needs,” said Dr. Alice Aiken, director, Canadian Institute of Military and Veteran Health Research.

In May 2013, VAC announced a partnership with St. John Ambulance Canada and Can Praxis to research the benefits of using therapy dogs and horses to assist veterans dealing with mental health issues.

“With today’s announcement, Can Praxis is very pleased as this enables us to continue to provide the highest quality equine programs possible along with the development of professional standards for this type of work in relation to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and operational stress injuries,” said Steve Critchley, co-founder, Can Praxis.

Critchly stated veterans and their families deserve the best assistance possible in understanding and overcoming the conflict and crisis that PTSD introduces into their lives.

“The announcement acknowledges the value of equine-assisted programs and will go a long way in gaining further acceptance of its inherent value within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the Department of National Defence and the veteran community, including Veteran Affairs Canada. For this we heartily thank the Minister, Mr. Erin O’Toole, and Veterans Affairs Canada,” said Critchly.

The Government of Canada is engaging partners on mental health issues that affect veterans and their families.

The CIMVHR is an innovative organization that engages existing academic research resources and facilitates the development of new research, research capacity, and effective knowledge transfer. With a network of academic researchers from across Canada, it serves as the hub for 37 Canadian universities that work together in addressing the health research requirements of Canadian Veterans and their families.

Can Praxis is a not-for-profit organization that uses equine-assisted learning to support veterans with mental health conditions, and their spouses.

Above Photo: Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole at an announcement earlier this year.

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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