Commons committee on health turns to professor’s expertise

By Costa Maragos Posted: May 28, 2015 6:00 p.m.

House of Commons
House of Commons (Fotolia Images)

Dr. Nicholas Carleton of the Department of Psychology has called for greater support in the area of mental health for people who work as First Responders. He outlined his case before the House of Commons Committee on Health in Ottawa
on May 28, 2015.

Dr. Carleton told the committee he’s seen “exceptional leadership” from first responder communities such as the RCMP and organizations representing police, firefighters and paramedics to name a few. However, the committee also heard how first responder communities are reaching a tipping point.

“The dramatic increase in reported operational stress injuries is starting to overwhelm the stigma that has silenced so many of these citizens for so long,” says Dr. Carleton, a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Regina.

Nick Carleton Side shot
Dr. Nicholas Carleton, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology.

He also treats police officers suffering from mental health issues including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

“The evidence to date suggests that given the right circumstances, anyone can develop an anxiety or mood disorder.

The nature of First Responder careers places them at higher risk,” explains Dr. Carleton whose research is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 

Moving forward, Dr. Carleton told the committee that an even greater role could be played by Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research, a network of 37 Canadian Universities, of which the U of R is the founding member.

Dr. Carleton says work is being done at the U of R “to develop a dedicated Canadian First Responder Hub to support evidence-based policies, practices and programming for mental health.”

The hub would also act as support for a multi-university team of interdisciplinary researchers at RCMP Depot in Regina. A team led by University of Regina researchers is working with the RCMP to make the project a reality.

Dr. Carleton’s research expertise on mental health is highly sought after. Most recently he was invited to speak at the Alberta Federation of Police Associations’ annual general meeting in Edmonton.