Call to Action –– Canada-Wide Operational Stress Injuries Survey

Call to Action –– Canada-Wide Operational Stress Injuries Survey
S’il vous plaît, consultez la version française de ce courriel ci-dessous.

Hello All,

A week ago the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) released the first national survey to assess operational stress injury (OSI) symptoms for Canadian First Responders and other Public Safety Personnel.

Participating in this anonymous survey will help provide critically-needed information about OSI symptom prevalence (e.g., symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, panic) for Canadian First Responders and other Public Safety Personnel. The survey can also assess interactions between stress, symptoms, your family, and your workplace.
Numbers matter. We currently don’t have reliable data on OSI symptom prevalence rates. We are counting on you to participate and encourage others to participate because doing so provides evidence for engaging strategies and allocating resources to support mental health for all Canadian First Responders and other Public Safety Personnel.
Whatever your mental health, your responses will help everyone in need.

Please distribute this e-mail and the attached document to all of your currently serving personnel and encourage them to distribute ensuring all personnel are invited. A subsequent survey for retired members is being planned for distribution as soon as possible.

For more information on the survey and on CIPSRT, please refer to the attached document or visit

A formal invitation to participate in the survey is attached. We sincerely hope you choose to participate, therein supporting yourself and your peers, and allowing us to advocate for appropriate resources to support public safety mental health.

Thank you all again for your ongoing help, support, and patience through this process.

If you have questions or comments please contact Steve Palmer, University of Regina or 306-535-8365

Additional information regarding CIPSRT is available on the website

Appel à l’action –Sondage à travers le Canada sur les traumatismes liés au stress opérationnel


Il y a une semaine L’Institut canadien de recherche et de traitement en sécurité publique (ICRTSP) lancer le premier sondage national pour évaluer les symptômes de traumatismes liés au stress opérationnel (TSO) chez les premiers répondants et les autres membres du personnel de la sécurité publique.

Votre participation à ce sondage anonyme contribuera à fournir des informations importantes sur la prévalence des TSO (symptômes de stress post-traumatique, dépression, anxiété, par exemple) chez les premiers répondants et les autres membres du personnel de la sécurité publique au Canada. Le sondage pourra aussi évaluer la corrélation entre le stress, les symptômes, votre famille et votre travail.
Les chiffres parlent. Nous n’avons aujourd’hui aucune donnée fiable sur le taux de prévalence des TSO. Nous comptons sur vous pour participer et encourager d’autres à participer, car ce faisant, vous apporterez les éléments de preuve nécessaires à établir des stratégies et à attribuer les ressources pour aider la santé mentale de tous les premiers répondants et les autres membres du personnel de la sécurité publique au Canada.
Quelle que soit votre santé mentale, vos réponses aideront tous ceux qui en ont besoin.

Veuillez diffuser ce courriel et les pièces jointes à tous vos employés actuellement en service et encouragez-les à le faire suivre aux autres, afin que tous les membres du personnel soient invités. On planifie distribuer, dès que possible, un sondage ultérieur aux membres du personnel à la retraite.

Pour plus d’informations sur le sondage ou sur l’ICRTSP, veuillez consulter le document ci-joint ou visiter le site

Une invitation officielle à participer au sondage sera envoyée le 1er septembre. Nous espérons sincèrement que vous déciderez d’y participer, pour votre bien et celui de vos pairs, et ainsi nous permettre de faire valoir le besoin d’obtenir les ressources nécessaires pour soutenir la santé mentale en sécurité publique.

Si vous avez des questions ou des commentaires s’il vous plaît contacter Steve Palmer, University of Regina or 306-535-8365

Des informations supplémentaires concernant ICRTSP est disponible sur le site Web
Je vous remercie à nouveau de votre confiance, de votre appui constant et de votre patience tout au long de ce processus.
Je vous remercie sincèrement à l’avance de votre collaboration.

L’équipe ICRTSP

Copyright © 2016 Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety, All rights reserved.
All CIPSRT Stakeholders

Our mailing address is:
Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety
3737 Wascana Parkway
Regina, Sk S4S 0A2


She is the face, the face of depression

Written by the daughters of 2 retired RCMP officers

She is a mom.
She is a wife.
She is a gram.
She is strong.
She is independent.
She is a hero.
She is a friend.
She is our rock.
She is our best friend.
She is a hard worker.
She is dedicated.
She is passionate.

She worked tirelessly for years, at a job that she was passionate about.
She had (maybe) 6 sick days during her 18 year career.
She was the first to help her coworkers in need.
She was treated disrespectfully by an outfit that she dedicated her heart and work to.
She loved working for and with people of all walks of life, but especially endangered women and children.
She is an advocate for women’s and children’s rights.
She is now retired.

She should be enjoying her retirement.
She is suffering from severe depression.
She is fighting off the darkest of dark thoughts.
She is enduring the most excruciatingly painful days of her life.

She has lost hope.
She has lost her spark.
She has lost her way.
She has lost her light.
She wanted to end the pain.
She felt suicide was the only way.

We are not willing to let this brightest light in our life go.
She is far too precious.
She is far too special.
She is far too valuable (in so many ways).

She is the face, the face of depression.
She is our mom.

Depression doesn’t look like what you would expect. It can affect anyone, even the strongest, brightest, most beautiful people in our lives. We need to do more than just say there is stigma around mental illness. We need to do more than say “I am here to help”. And we need to fight for health resources, for those who aren’t able to fight. We NEED to do better. The alternative is not an option.

September 10, 2016 is annual suicide prevention day.

University of Regina paper reveals more help needed for first responders suffering from PTSD and other traumas

A newly released paper, developed by University of Regina researcher, Dr. Nick Carleton, in partnership with members of the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) and supported by the Canadian Association of Police Governance (CAPG), the Paramedic Association of Canada (PAC) and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), finds that more needs to be done to help Canada’s first responders and other public safety personnel who are dealing with trauma often associated with their work.


Peer Support and Crisis-Focused Psychological Intervention Programs in Canadian First Responders: Blue Paper, evaluates the peer support and psychological intervention programs already being offered to help those who often confront death, violence, and threats to their own lives at work, sometimes on a daily basis.


“We found that there is a drastic need for more research assessing the impact of the programs that are currently offered to our police, paramedics, and fire and rescue personnel,” says Carleton. “Currently there is very little, if any evidence available proving the effectiveness of any specific program. This is harmful to the well-being of our first responders.”


Carleton says his team found that while first responders and other public safety personnel appreciate the programs that are available to them, having evidence-based, consistent programming across the country will provide greater benefits.  


“The mental health of our people is at risk. This year alone, 26 Canadian first responders have taken their own lives. At the current rate this may be the worst year for suicides, surpassing the 40 first responders who died last year,” says Mario Harel, president of CACP.  “This has to change.”


Rob Stephanson, president of CAPG, says the release of the Blue Paper is a first step in a long-term commitment to supporting Canadian first responders and other public safety personnel. “The pending Prevalence Survey being released in September is the critical next step.”


Carleton’s next step is to release a national survey which will help his team gain a better understanding of the impact that work stress and symptoms have on first responders and their families. They aim to create supports for the mental health of all public safety personnel.


“The work of Dr. Carleton and his team sets the stage for the creation of more uniform supports for the mental health of all our public safety personnel,” says Pierre Poirier, executive director of PAC. “The recommendations in the Blue Paper are necessary as the effects of daily traumas put our first responders at risk for psychological challenges, including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and anger. It’s my hope that the survey will help researchers better understand the impacts this work can have, and move forward in identifying what is required to support the recognition, prevention, intervention and treatment of mental health concerns facing Canadian first responders.”


Access the Blue Paper at:


It’s never too late to say Thank You


Thank you Daddy

I keep thinking it’s too late, but remind myself that it’s never too late to say thank you.

You don’t know me, but I am the daughter of a police officer, and reading of the loss of any officer really hit home. I know how important your job is, and can barely fathom how stressful it can be.

While my dad, like most officers, is a strong, masculine, proud man, I can see the tragedies he’s witnessed, hidden behind his blue eyes. I can see the stress lines that map his face, and the exhaustion of his mind and body when he arrives home.

My dad has missed birthdays, Christmas’ and other family gatherings because duty called, like it does for many officers. As a kid I remember being disappointed, but never angry. I was always proud of my dad that was protecting the world. My own personal superman, and I just assumed everyone viewed him that way. Nevertheless, as an adult, I now see that this is not the case.

Some people view police as power hungry, doing injustice, never being in the right place, ruining their families, delivering bad news. Officers moves are scrutinized and publicized. They are torn down by the very same people they show up to help. That’s the thing about police officers. It doesn’t matter how many times they are publicly and maliciously attacked–when you call the police, whether you like/respect them or not, they will be there to help you, your family, your friends and your neighbours in their time of need.

Rarely are officers celebrated and thanked for what they do on a daily basis, nor is it acknowledge the extreme toll their job takes on their mind, body, family and more.

So, I just wanted to say, as someone who has grown up with a behind-the-scenes view, Thank-you.

Thank-you for bravely strapping in for a roller-coaster of a day, every day, prepared to assist and protect your community as best as you can.

Thank-you for missing your sons hockey game, your wife’s birthday, or your daughters play to make sure my family can sleep soundly at night.

Thank-you for compassionately helping people through situations they’d otherwise not know how to navigate, such as death, car accidents, break-ins and assaults.

I am sorry for the horrible destruction and tragedy you see and that you are forced to valiantly carrying that burden with you wherever you go.


The Stigma of Suicide is Alive and Strong!

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When I started my advocacy journey, over 3 years ago, I was a naive spouse driven by pain and the need to bring PTSD out from the darkness. My hope was to save families from some of the pain mine had gone through by having an awareness and knowledge of mental health.
I was not aware police officers were dying by suicide, but soon became aware, from the few brave and courageous spouses and families who stepped forward to break the silence.
These families have deeply touched my soul and I will bring a part of them with me through life. I have shed many tears reading their emails and talking to them. I have heard their pain and felt honoured to have had their trust, so I could share their families’ experiences with the world. I hold them all very dearly. I see them as beacons of bravery and courage.
What I wasn’t prepared for was those who are adamant about keeping suicides and/or PTSD under the rug and quiet. I have been subjected to relentless, mean, rude and hateful Facebook messages and emails about our decision to share and acknowledge suicides. Some have gone as far as saying I am responsible for the deaths of members by popularizing suicides. Others have said I am disrespecting families and the policing profession. Some spouses have hunted down my personal Facebook page and sent me nasty messages saying that I am every police spouse’s worst nightmare, threatening to start a campaign against me if I don’t stop. One told me my soul is going to burn in hell.
This isn’t just limited to suicides, some are furious to have images of RCMP members and PTSD put together. One RCMP member incessantly contacts me every time I use the picture, with different quotes on it, of the RCMP member slumped over his cruiser door during the Moncton tragedy, depicting the true emotions of a police officer reacting to a very traumatic event he witnessed. She states she is a good friend of this member, he doesn’t have PTSD and I have no right to use it in reference to PTSD in anyway. She says I am humiliating him and demands I take it down.
I have had to take my personal information off the website as I have had people contact me saying they have my name and are going to track me down.
I have had senior police members from different police departments contact me and demand I remove posts.
I have not and I will not.
I am very careful not to make references to what led to their suicide other than when families have shared with me the details of their struggles. I don’t even use the word suicide in the post, just “We lost another” and what was made public.
Almost all of the posts I make about losing a police officer are because someone close to them contacts me and requests for me to do so. They feel a deep need to have them publicly honoured and acknowledged.
I feel deeply that to stay quiet about suicide, to continue to treat it as taboo or a sin, is telling those who are struggling with what is going on within them is also wrong. If we don’t open up the dialogue, and be honest, we are telling people “you need to keep your struggles hidden”. We can stop the need to post about members who went to such a dark place, the only viable option they see is to take their own life, but that takes a determination by the leaders to put in place training at all levels, from recruit to retiree, addressing how PTSD is real, can be mitigated and must be in the open to deny it power.
There are many positive messages as well, but the mean ones sting, make some of my days long and sleep does not come easily at night. I received this one positive message just last night, when I was particularly low. These are what I try my best to hold in my heart and allow them to lift me back up.

I ran across this page while reading about the Moose Jaw Member that presumably took their own life.

I was not in the RCMP, I was with Regina Police Service from 1979 to 1990. It took me over 15 years to realize I was dealing with PTSD and it was this year that I finally began to manage it with some level of success.

I can’t thank you enough for what you are doing here. Back in my time, no one even heard of PTSD. Three of my brother officers, two of them my fellow SWAT team members took their lives during my years of service. Others have since of course and it’s all preventible and more manageable. Thank you for speaking out, standing up, and organizing. You are saving lives.

Thank you

Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness
Hi Terry, You have no idea how much your kind supportive words mean. Thank you so much Sir for them and your service. Lori

You are very welcome. You’ve been given a calling. An important one. Every bit as great a calling as the one given to those now needing your help. Fight the fight. Take care.”

Thank you for each and everyone of you have take time to support us and families who are hurting with a few kind words and to do what you can to bring change forward.
We will move forward because those that need us to are worth the pain brought on by the few who are scared and ignorant.
What we witness when we are honest about these tragedies is an opening of dialogue, people sharing, reaching out and connecting. Breaking the isolation that leads people down the dark path of PTSD. This openness builds a community of support and understanding, quite the opposite of what these naysayers are depicting.
There is so much work to be done around mental health and none of it can truly happen until we are honest and stop perpetuating the stigma by keeping quiet about the things we don’t want to, or are afraid to, look at.

Founder of Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness

Relative Cost of Mental Health in the RCMP

Need to know ahead of time!.jpg
I have previously posted my belief RCMP employees should be required to see a psychologist of their choice as part of RCMP “Mandatory” medicals. One barrier to this that always comes up is the cost so I thought I would provide some context as to what the cost would be and how insignificant it actually is compared to the amount of funding the RCMP receives and costs of having employees “Off Duty Sick” and on “Graduated Return to Work”. Before all the purists start to comment “I don’t understand the complexity of Treasury Board Funding Policies”, I want to make it very clear I served at a level and in positions where I was required not only to understand “Treasury Board Rules” but Provincial Funding Policies under the “Provincial Policing Services Agreement (PPSA)” as well. I do not represent this as a comprehensive study on the topic because it isn’t (I did it in a couple of hours). I do believe what follows accurately illustrates the financial burden to provide mental health services to every employee is not as financially overwhelming as RCMP Senior Management suggests. As we all know, getting facts from the RCMP is difficult so I obtained the following excerpts from on-line Quarterly Reports and Audits:
“The RCMP achieved Budget 2012 savings of $44.4 million in 2012-13. Savings increased to $89.1 million for 2013-14 and will reach the on-going savings target of $195.2 million in 2014-15 (inclusive of employee benefit plan costs). These savings are being accomplished with minimal impacts on direct policing operations.
The period ending December 31, 2013 marks the second year of Budget 2012 implementation and the RCMP is preparing for the third and final year when its reference levels will be reduced to the full savings target of $195.2 million. Some key initiatives include:
• Health Care Modernization – The RCMP is modernizing its Health Services program through an amendment to the definition of an “insured person” under the Canada Health Act (received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012). As of April 1, 2013, basic health care coverage for regular members is now under provincial/territorial regimes. The RCMP anticipates significant reductions in basic health care expenditures in 2013-14, with full savings associated to the initiative being realized in 2014-15. Savings in expenditures is evident upon review of standard object 4, which is reflecting a $25.8 million year-over-year reduction, largely attributed to this DRAP initiative.
• In 2013-14
o Operating Budget Carry Forward is $53.1 million higher in 2013-14 when compared to 2012-13. In 2012-13, the RCMP received $101.2 million through TB Central Vote transfer, whereas in 2013-14 the RCMP received $154.3 million in funding.”
On September 1st, 2015 there were 28,461 employees in the RCMP. If you multiply that by $160.00, the hourly cost of a Psychologist in the province I reside it would cost $4,553,760.00 annually or $2,276,880.00 if included as part of mandatory medicals every two years. This is less than 1/5th of the $25.8 million year-over-year reduction achieved through the Health Care Modernization noted above.
In February of 2014 the Final Report on the “Audit of Long – Term Sick Leave” was released and below is the Table with respect to Graduated Return to Work. The review used 4 Divisions for Audit purposes. (
As shown in Table 1 below, notwithstanding the lack of complete and accurate information in HRMIS, for the divisions tested GRW timelines were significantly higher than standard:
Table 1 – Average period for members reported GRW as at March 1, 2013:
Division #GRW on HRMIS Average # Months
1 7 7.1
2 187 9.4
3 39 7.1
4 28 7.5
Total 261 7.78
Considering it was reported in 2010 that “E” Division had over 200 members on Long Term Sick Leave it is unlikely it is one of the Divisions included in the Audit so lets’ use the hypothetical scenario of 800 members annually on ODS for 2 months or 1/6th of a year prior to coming back on GRW with the Cst. salary of $39/hr. RCMP members are paid for 2,087 hours per year, so 2 months represents 348 hrs or $13,572 in salary. If you multiply that by 800 members which would be a conservative estimate, the cost is $10,857,600 or more than double the cost of having each employee see a psychologist once a year.
No, I am not naive enough to believe seeing a psychologist once a year is going to eliminate Operational Stress Injuries (OSI”s) but it would go a long way to preventing/mitigating not only OSI’s but a number of other issues related to mental health. It would also check off a box on every Commissioned Officers ”Performance Agreement” which seems to be the primary (if not the only) reason for doing things in today’s environment. This simple action would provide employees with an additional resource (maybe their only resource in some cases) in the eventuality they do suffer an OSI, provide them with an opportunity to develop strategies to increase resiliency to OSI’s early thereby reducing the long term effects and above all promote and educate everyone on mental health.
The RCMP Mental Health Strategy 2014-2019 listed the following as key areas:
Our focus
The strategy focuses on five key areas:
1. Promotion
2. Education
3. Prevention
4. Early detection and intervention
5. Continuous improvement.
The requirement for employees to see a psychologist as part of mandatory medicals addresses all 5. The cost everyone is so concerned about in all likelihood would be recovered multiple times over through reduced ODS and GRW. I am not one to write the Public Safety Minister, Provincial Justice Minister or the Commissioner as you are quickly labelled a “disgruntled employee”, “uniformed” or “trouble maker” and I am none of them. I visited a former colleague the other day and he told me I was too “passionate” about the force when I was working and I am still too “passionate” about it. I like everyone else served proudly and despite the pitfalls of certain individuals within the organization there are a far greater number of employees (past and present) who are as passionate as I am and if we all stand together change on this issue is possible. Yes, there is a significant cost to providing mental health services but there is a far greater cost to “not providing mental health services”. Above all, maybe there won’t be a next time someone feels they have no option other than to sacrifice their own life.
S/Sgt. R.T. Miller (retired)

From the wife of a RCMP member who suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Thank you for starting this support group. Change can happen with awareness and support.
I am a widow of a RCMP member who was diagnosed with PSTD. My husband struggled with this illness for 3 years before taking his own life 12 years ago this month. After his death, I wrote a letter about my experience as a spouse of a RCMP member who suffered from PSTD in hopes of helping other members and their families. I know it travelled across Canada as I had many people contact me about it. It was also given to a RCMP psychologist to help bring awareness on how PSTD affects not only members but their families as well. It saddens me to read in this FB group that things have not changed a lot over the years when it comes to supporting members and their families who are affected from PSTD.
It is hard to believe on January 26th it will be 12 years since that tragic day. The hardest part of moving forward has been watching my children grow up missing their dad in their lives (our son was 10 and our daughter was 7). My daughter has a tattoo on her arm of her father’s signature and DOB and DOD, she also wears an engraved picture of him on a necklace.

6 February 2004

From the wife of a RCMP member who suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
It is difficult for me to even know where to begin to inform people about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the affects it has not only on a person/member suffering from it, but the family as well. I feel obliged to tell our story, I will be gaining strength in doing so. By telling our story I may influence others to pay attention to this disease and help others deal more effectively with it. God knows it has to be addressed immediately.
As I write this letter I feel pain that no words can describe. My husband was my best friend, my soul mate and the father to my two children. I watched him suffer pain within himself, and struggle to live for the sake of myself and his children. Anyone that knew my husband would say he was a very hard working, loving, and compassionate person who brought sunshine to everyone he met whether it was a first meeting or a lifelong friendship. He wore his RCMP uniform with great pride and respected all his colleagues whether they were a Commissioner or Constable. I am telling my story in hopes that my husband and my own cries will be heard. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is life threatening and treatable. It is not a personality disorder, or a moral disorder. It is not self induced or wanted by the sufferer or their loved ones. It is a primary disease the same as cancer or any other primary disease. If you feel inclined to make judgments about the sufferer, you contribute to their suffering exactly the same as if you induced cancer cells into someone with that disease.
Before ending this letter, I want to thank all of you who did help and support my husband and I over this traumatic series of events. Many of you were angels of hope and comfort to us, and God will know and reward you. Please hear my message. Remove the unwarranted stigma from this deadly affliction…………..

I beg you.

Sherry Webb
This is only a small excerpt from Sherry’s letter to the RCMP after her husband Constable Jeff Webb lost his courageous battle to PTSD January 26th 2004.