(CAMH) Police Mental Health: A Discussion Paper October 2018

A section from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Police Mental Health: A Discussion Paper October 2018

*Mental illness Canadian police officers are disproportionately affected by mental illness. A substantial number of
municipal/provincial police (36.7%){*8} and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) (50.2%)*{9} report current symptoms of mental illness compared to the general population (~10%)*{10}.  A study of two urban Canadian police departments found that mental health problems and illnesses were frequently cited by officers:
• 52% reported moderate to severe stress (11% extremely severe);
• 88% reported moderate to severe anxiety (12% extremely severe);
• 87% reported moderate to severe depression (13% extremely severe); and
• 29% were in the clinical diagnostic range for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)*{11}.

(The lifetime prevalence rate of PTSD for all Canadians is about 9%)*{12}.
PTSD is one of the most widely recognized anxiety disorders experienced by police. PTSD emerges
following exposure to traumatic events that involve actual or threatened serious harm to oneself or others*{13}.

Symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance and aggression:*{14} usually occur within 3 months of exposure to trauma, but sometimes take years to appear*{15}. PTSD can be triggered by a single traumatic event or may develop after repeated exposure to multiple traumas*{16}.

Suicidal behaviours
Police are more likely to engage in suicidal behaviours than the general public. A recent Canadian study
found that the prevalence of past year suicidal ideation and planning were higher for municipal/ provincial police and RCMP compared to the general population. Prevalence of past year suicide attempts was similar amongst police and the general public.
Table 1 Suicidal behaviour in police and general population.

Past Year Suicidal
Municipal/Provincial Police*{17}  RCMP*{18}                                        General Population*{19}
Ideation: 8.3% 9.9% 5.8%
Planning: 3.4% 4.1% 2.2%
Attempt: 0.2% 0.2% Less than 1%

8 Carleton et al, 2017
9 Ibid
10 Pearson, Janz & Ali, 2013 11 Griffiths et al, as cited by Stamatakis, 2017 12 Portico, 2018 13 CAMH, 2018 14 APA, 2013 15 CAMH, 2018 16 Ombudsman Ontario, 2012; Geronazzo-Alman et al, 2017 17 Carleton et al, 2018 18 Ibid 19 Statistics Canada, as cited by Carleton et al 2018*

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