CACP Bulletin

Spring 2017

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CACP 3 Spring 2017 P olice and their public safety and emergency response partners recognized a number of years ago the need to develop and imple- ment strategies for the prevention, response, treatment and sup- port of employees suffering from mental health issues – employ- ees who are performing complex, often unique and challenging work. Increased commitments and efforts to address this critical issue brought together over 200 delegates at the The Mental Health of Police Personnel: What We Know & What We Need to Know and Do conference in February, 2017. The importance of this issue and the need for collective action was highlighted by the multiple conference partners - the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), Canadian Police Association (CPA), the Canadian Association of Police Governance (CAPG), the CACP Research Foundation (CACP-RF), the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) and Public Safety Canada (PSC) – and the broad representation of police and other stakeholder delegates from across the country. The Canadian Government notes that it finds the "prevalence of post-traumatic stress injuries in public safety officers and first responders troubling" 1 , and are therefore encouraging the development of a mental health strategy for public safety officers broadly. The Government's House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has conducted a study on Operational Stress Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for Public Safety Officers to serve as a foundation for ensuring that public safety officers are supported regardless of where they live or work. The Committee report calls for: • the creation of a Canadian Institute for Public Safety Officer Health Research, • a mental health prevalence survey be conducted; and • the formation of an expert working group, and that this group be tasked with the development of a national action plan on post traumatic injuries that includes policies on prevention, screening, education, intervention and treatment. The conference objective was to focus on strategies that could be actioned immediately to assist police organizations in preventing, responding, treating, and supporting the recovery of police personnel across a full range of mental health issues that can arise throughout an employee's career. This included examination of mental health in the workplace research and promising and proven practices; potential risks and mental health implications of major incidents and mass casualty events; strategies, policies and practices for addressing the human resource management and operational and business challenges; and collaborative strategies for communicating and and carrying forward priority actions. Presentations and small group discussions on research and evidence, the continuum of care, and human resources and police operations were consolidated and refined, and brought forward as suggestions for imme- diate and longer term collective action. Further discussion in a plenary session resulted in the development of the following recommendations for action: • adapting and building models for police agencies to address mental health issues, tailored and scaled to the needs and capacities of their agency; • examining and applying proven and promising practices; • promoting and disseminating research; • integrating academics' findings, front-line officers' knowledge and expertise, and community resources into policy and operations; • continuing collaboration with the MHCC; • making incremental and immediate changes to policy and practice to realize results in the short and longer term; • tackling clearly-stated objectives in a systematic, coordinated and collective approach to limit splintering and loss of focus; and • monitoring the methods employed to achieve these objectives; and evaluating the outcomes. Delegates and partners agreed that the CACP has an important leadership role in furthering this agenda under the guidance of the Human Resources and Learning Committee, and emphasized that the onus is on partners and stakeholders to own the content and momentum of the next steps. To learn about how you can be involved in this important undertaking, contact Supt. Steve Schnitzer (Rtd), Director of the Police Academy, Justice Institute of BC, and Co-chair of the CACP Human Resources and Learning Committee at sschnitzer@jibc.ca. Identification of deliverables feasible within the next six months. ENSURING THE MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING OF POLICE PERSONNEL 1 Government of Canada. (2016). Study on Operational Stress Injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Public Safety Officers and First Responders. Available at http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=e&Mode=1&Parl=42&Ses=1&DocId=8457704&File=24

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