VICTORIA – The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has released a new report outlining 16 recommendations for police education and training to better prepare Canadian police personnel for interactions with people with mental illness.
The report, entitled TEMPO: Police Interactions – A report towards improving interactions between police and people living with mental health problems, was launched at the 109th annual conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP). Mental health is a prominent issue for Canada’s police community, and today’s report launch builds on the increasingly collaborative relationship between the two organizations.
“There has been significant interest amongst the police community to provide sufficient training for police personnel both to improve their understanding of mental illness and to equip them to respond appropriately to persons with mental illness. This report is intended to be a blueprint for a comprehensive training and education curriculum,” said Dr. Terry Coleman, MOM, PhD, who co-authored the report with Dr. Dorothy Cotton, Ph.D., C. Psych.
“This issue is on the mind of every police leader in Canada,” added Chief Clive Weighill, CACP President. “The report not only elaborates on key recommendations stemming from our March 2014 joint MHCC-CACP conference, it also supports many of the findings from independent inquiries into use-of-force occurrences. We are very optimistic that police services throughout Canada will use this as a framework to assess and improve their own training practices.”
The TEMPO report is the result of a comprehensive survey of Canadian police organizations; a literature review; an international comparative review of police learning programs; and direct interviews with a variety of police and mental health professionals.
Key training/education recommendations include:
- That police learning be designed and delivered by a combination of police personnel, adult educators, mental health professionals, mental health advocacy organizations and people living with mental illness.
- More uniform inclusion of non-physical interventions (verbal communications, interpersonal skills, de-escalation, defusing and calming techniques) in use-of-force training.
- The incorporation of anti-stigma education to challenge the attitudinal barriers that lead to discriminatory action.
- That provincial governments establish policing standards that include provision for mandatory basic and periodic police training qualification/requalification for interactions with people with mental illness.
- Provision of training on the role of police, mental health professionals, family and community supports in encounters with persons with mental illness.
- That training provides a better understanding of the symptoms of mental illness and the ability to assess the influence a mental illness might be having on a person’s behaviour and comprehension.
“This report is the result of very positive and collaborative work between Canada’s policing and mental health communities. It is through this continued work together that we will ensure the best possible outcomes for police personnel and people with mental illness. We are very proud to take this step forward together with the CACP today,” said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
To read the entire report, please click here
ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together we create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.
Sara Bergen, MHCC Public Affairs
Mental Health Commission of Canada