“When RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson was asked about PTSD in the force last week, he told reporters he didn’t think the Mounties had a systemic issue with PTSD. He also said that he felt the RCMP was managing the risk associated with PTSD fairly well, I challenge this statement.
That Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness exists is a statement to the fact this is not true.
Two members, whom I am aware, of took their lives last year suffering from PTSD.
According to statistics from the RCMP, the number of officers receiving benefits for PTSD has almost doubled in the past four years, from 1,077 in 2007-2008 to 1,955 in 2011-2012. 878 members were diagnosed with PTSD and deemed disabled, were 878 members shot in the last 4 years and permanently disabled?
Commissioner Paulson as the world of policing has evolved in areas of technology and equipment, so has the importance of mental health and the managing of its risks.
My husband never shot his fire arm or was shot at but he witnessed more than an enough trauma to cause him to have PTSD. He received exemplary training in firearms and self-defence. He received a 3 hour lecture on stress, with no mention of mental health, PTSD or trauma. There was no follow up or any debriefings after any of his incidents.
So would this approach be acceptable for fire arms training? Would you accept if members received 3 hours of theory on fire arms? Then they were informed any additional information would be put on a bulletin board in their detachment. If they had issues or questions about their fire arm there would be a phone number they could call to get help.
Would it be acceptable if the members had bullet proof vest which only stopped some bullet?
Would it be acceptable if dispatch radios worked some of the time?
Since PTSD is obviously a bigger threat to a member’s and his career than physical violence, why is its training and awareness not given any priority? Why is this approach accepted for mental health? I would say it is because there is a belief PTSD is a weakness and a choice. Or is it the RCMP doesn’t really believe it is real and just something members make up?
Here are my questions for you Commissioner Paulson
• Is there follow up on the VA statics?
• Do you know if theses members received a debriefing after the incidents that caused their PTSD?
• Did they seek out treatment?
• Were they aware of the resources available to them?
• Did they feel they received adequate training and awareness?
• Did they know the signs and symptoms?
• Did their supervisors?
• Did their spouses?
• Have they and their family received the treatment and support they need?
• Is the RCMP tracking PTSD cases to look for patterns?
• Are there areas more affected than others?
• Are there divisions or detachments that are hot spots?
• Are resources and training being focused in these areas?
• Can your CO’s and detachment commanders tell you how many PTSD claims were in their areas last year or last month?
• Is it part of your management action plan on how to reduce the number of members getting PTSD?
• Do your CO’s and detachment commanders have such a plan?
• Do you know the toll PTSD takes on a member and their family’s lives?
• Have you spoken with members whom are suffering from PTSD?
Commissioner Paulson until you can answer all of these questions and show the supporting data, to show your actions, you are not “managing the risk associated with PTSD fairly well”. I would also say the members and spouses whom you are responsible for their mental health would demand more than “fairy well”.
Founder of Families of the RCMP for PTSd Awareness