RCMP contract awarded to research team as part of long-term mental health study

By Krista Baliko Posted: December 8, 2017 4:15 p.m.

 (Back l to r) Assistant Commissioner Brenda Lucki; Dr. David Malloy, V-P (Research), U of R; Dr. Gregory Kratzig, Director of Research at Depot Division; Dr. Nicholas Carleton, Psychology Professor and Scientific Director for the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment, U of R; Steve Palmer, Executive Director, the Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety, U of R; (front l to r) Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor, U of R; the Honourable Ralph Goodale; Assistant Commissioner Stephen White.
(Back l to r) Assistant Commissioner Brenda Lucki; Dr. David Malloy, V-P (Research), U of R; Dr. Gregory Kratzig, Director of Research at Depot Division; Dr. Nicholas Carleton, Psychology Professor and Scientific Director for the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment, U of R; Steve Palmer, Executive Director, the Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety, U of R; (front l to r) Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor, U of R; the Honourable Ralph Goodale; Assistant Commissioner Stephen White. Photo: U of R Photography

Almost every Canadian has been affected in some way by a mental health issue - either directly or indirectly. While this is an alarming reality, our first responders, including our national police force, are impacted more than most.

Every day, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers deal with the pressures and stresses associated with policing. Throughout their careers they are exposed to higher rates of traumatic events than the general public.

Today, at the RCMP Academy, Depot Division, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced that a contract has been awarded to the University of Regina to conduct a study on the effects of policing on the mental health of RCMP officers.

Its purpose is to identify psychological and physiological signs of trauma and stress-related disorders, including post-traumatic stress. The contract is valued at up to approximately $8.9 million.

“Post-traumatic stress injuries, and other operational stress injuries, disproportionately affect police officers – people who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe and secure. We are committed to providing RCMP officers with the mental health support they need to recover. The results of this study will help us better understand the problem and provide better support,” says Goodale.

The research study will be led by Dr. Nicholas Carleton, a University of Regina psychology professor who is an internationally recognized leader in contemporary work on mental health for first responders and other public safety personnel.

“This is much more than a research study,” says Carleton. “This initiative has the potential to transform the health of our RCMP and, ultimately, all public safety personnel.”

The study will be conducted through the use of wearable technology, annual psychological assessments and self-reporting measures. Participation will be voluntary and all data will be given anonymously, to protect the privacy of the RCMP member. These findings will assist the RCMP in developing long-term plans to support the mental health of its members and will be valuable to other public safety organizations, including police services, fire fighters and paramedics.

“The RCMP recognizes the importance of the mental health of its members.  We expect this study to provide invaluable information that can be used to enhance prevention and intervention measures to improve the psychological health and safety of our employees and other first responders,” says Deputy Commissioner Daniel G.J. Dubeau, Acting Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Dr. Vianne Timmons, University of Regina President and Vice-Chancellor, says every day we ask our first responders to do extraordinary things – from coping with emergencies and keeping people safe to being the difference between life and death, all of which can take a toll on these remarkable and dedicated people.

"Supporting and protecting the mental health of those who serve and protect us 365 days a year is of the utmost importance,” says Timmons “The University of Regina is internationally recognized for its work in clinical psychology, particularly PTSD and other operational stress injuries, and through the efforts of our researchers this significant study aims to make a positive difference in the lives of many people in the years to come.”   

Work on this project will begin immediately.

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

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