PRINCE ALBERT -- A Prince Albert team is spearheading a project to build a 10-bed respite facility for people living with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It can cause rewiring in the brain if left unmanaged. So we want to get people if they do experience trauma that they put things in place to start dealing with it," Jeff Reeder said.

A group, headed by Reeder and Michelle McKeaveney, plans to pay for the construction of the centre with donations.

The River Valley Resilience Retreat would offer several treatment options, including service animals and a horse stable to provide equine therapy to clients.

With eight correctional facilities in the Prince Albert area, there is a need for a private facility where people can escape the stigma of seeking treatment at a hospital, Reeder said.

“For public safety personal, dealing with people that are involved in the system and bringing them to the hospital or whatever, then having to utilize that unit yourself, it adds a stigma and a barrier,” Reeder said. 

First responders, medical staff and corrections workers are among the occupations often affected by PTSD and mental health issues due to their work environment. 

McKeaveney has PTSD and has become an advocate for those affected. Dealing with it immediately is most effective, she said.

In Prince Albert, there is a long waiting list of people who need to be accessed by Worker Compensation claims for occupational stress injury and PTSD, said Reeder, who is on a board working with the Workers Compensation Board to look into the problem. 

The shortage of staff has people currently being sent out of the province to get assessments done, he said.

Once applicants have received the approval to seek treatment paid for by their work’s health coverage, the money disappears quickly for those who choose to spend it on registered phycologists, McKeaveney said.

“To go the Workers Compensation route for operational stress injury is an arduous task. If you get to a psychologist, you typically run out of treatment funding after six sessions.”

In addition to raising money for the project, Reeder and McKeaveney are seeking approval for facility from the Rural Municipality of Duck Lake. 

Correction: A previous version of this story reported that Jeff Reeder and Michelle McKeaveney are married. This is not accurate. CTV News regrets the error.