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Paramedicine and mental health: a qualitative analysis of limitations to education and practice in Ontario

Polly Christine Ford-Jones (Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness, Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Toronto, Canada)
Tamara Daly (School of Health Policy and Management, Centre for Aging Research and Education, York University, Toronto, Canada)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 12 November 2020

Issue publication date: 12 November 2020




Paramedics increasingly attend to mental health-related emergencies; however, there has been little evaluation of the mental health training for paramedics. This study aims to analyze the fit between paramedicine pedagogy, patient needs and the conditions for paramedics’ skill development.


Data were collected in a single, qualitative, critical ethnographic case study of pre-hospital mental health and psychosocial care in paramedicine in Ontario, Canada. Transcripts from interviews (n = 46), observation (n ∼ 90h) and document analysis were thematically analyzed using a constant comparative method. The study is theoretically grounded in a feminist political economy framework.


Tensions are explored in relation to the pedagogy of paramedicine and the conditions of work faced by paramedics. The paper presents challenges and insufficiencies with existing training, the ways in which certain work and training are valued and prioritized, increased emergency care and training needs and the limitations of training to improving care.

Research limitations/implications

Recommendations include more comprehensive didactic training, including the social determinants of health; scenario training; practicum placements in mental health or social services; collaboration with mental health and social services to further develop relevant curriculum and potential inclusion of service users.


This paper addresses the lack of mental health pedagogy in Ontario and internationally and the need for further training pre-certification and while in the workforce. It presents promising practices to ameliorate mental health training and education for paramedics.



This paper is drawn from Dr Ford-Jones’ dissertation for the completion of a Doctorate in Health Policy and Equity, School of Health Policy and Management, York University, Toronto, Canada. The authors would like to thank the study participants for sharing their experiences and insights, as well as the dissertation committee members Dr Mary Wiktorowicz and Dr Claudia Chaufan both of York University.Funding: Fieldwork Cost Fund (YUGSA) York University.Research Cost Fund (CUPE 3903) York University.


Ford-Jones, P.C. and Daly, T. (2020), "Paramedicine and mental health: a qualitative analysis of limitations to education and practice in Ontario", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 15 No. 6, pp. 331-345.



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