I originally posted this last year asking my name be withheld until I was ready. After almost two years I have realized that just like many calls I have responded to over the years I’ll never be ready but I did it anyways.
People need to be the priority, not Image:
Until those in a position with decision making authority place a greater priority on the health and welfare of employees than they do on their own image or the image of the Force people will continue to suffer in silence and more battles will be lost. I joined the RCMP to make a positive difference and help others like I’m sure everyone else did. I do not believe people enter the First Responder profession with a plan to fake an injury, collect a pay cheque/pension and do nothing. It is simply not in the character of person who becomes a first responder to even contemplate. I recently retired after 33+ years of service. Prior to retiring at the urging of some people I had worked with earlier in my career I went to see a psychologist primarily so I could prove they were wrong and get them to leave me alone. In order to ensure confidentiality I went to a neighboring city at my own expense so my supervisor and co-workers would have less chance of finding out I was going to see a psychologist even in the first instance. To say I was shocked to be diagnosed with chronic PTSD is an understatement. It took me 3 months to tell my wife and 8 months to tell my children. I still haven’t told other family members or friends let alone those I worked with. I have been visiting this site since I saw a poster on the wall in the psychologist’s office and recognize many of the names as people I have worked with. I remember one situation in the early 90’s of an OIC screaming at a member in the office next to me on how they were a good member for 7 years and in the last year and half they were useless. Knowing what I know now I am sure if you looked at what happened around the time the member’s performance started to suffer there was a work related reason. It is the work that causes the personal life issues in most cases, not the other way around. I can almost guarantee that by the time things start to surface at work members/employees have exhausted all avenues they can think of and their personal life is a mess. Work is usually the last place issues show up, not the first. There is much work to be done and I am aware that in at least some Divisions they are developing peer support programs. I only hope they will be available to everyone soon. I also believe it is incumbent on everyone to use the resources currently available. If every member took advantage of the 6 (I believe) visits per year to see a psychologist under the current system it would go a long way to improving their mental health. If it was made mandatory it would eliminate the stigma attached to it and would simply be something everyone does. Perhaps “Compassion” will one day be a Core Value practiced and preached as often as “Accountability”. Unfortunately I am better at giving advice than taking it.
I am still struggling with telling anyone I have PTSD but better to be hated for who you are than liked for who you aren’t.
R.T. (Bob) Miller S/Sgt. (retired)