A commitment to promote mental health in the police services workplace was made at a March 3, 2011 meeting of executives from the Canadian Association of Police Boards (CAPB), the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), and the Canadian Police Association (CPA) in Ottawa.
Mental health issues are a growing concern for police services across the country because the criminal justice work environment poses risks and dangers that may lead to mental health conditions. Police officers and other individuals working in the criminal justice system often face operational stress injuries, which are mental health conditions that result from high-stress work environments, including police services, correctional services and military services. Operational stress injuries include conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
At the meeting in Ottawa, senior leaders of the three associations met with Bill Wilkerson, co-founder of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health and the mental health adviser to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), to discuss the RCMP approach to mental health promotion. The RCMP guidelines called “COPS” — Care, Outreach, Prevention, Support — encourage police service leaders to clearly state a commitment to mental health, to mandate a “duty to care” among all senior officers, and to adopt a policy of zero tolerance towards stigmatization. The guidelines also encourage police service employees and their families to learn as much as they can about mental health and the early warning signs of potential distress.
See the Canadian Association of Police Boards media release, “All Levels of Law Enforcement Agree on Need to Address Mental Health Issues,” March 3, 2011, available at www.capb.ca.
See also “Cops’ Mental Health a ‘Top Priority’: Police Brass,” Ottawa Sun, March 3, 2011, available at www.ottawasun.com.