Mississauga, Ontario – At the conclusion of The Conference on Mental Readiness – Strategies for Psychological Health and Safety in Police Organizations, Louise Bradley, President & CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and Chief Clive Weighill, President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) issued the following statement:
“Over the past two days, more than 200 delegates from across Canada gathered in Mississauga, Ontario to share perspectives, learn from best practices and develop strategies to improve psychological health and safety in police organizations. Participants included police leaders and personnel, mental health practitioners, educators, researchers and members of the police community with lived experience of mental health problems and illnesses.
This conference was built on the foundation of the successful 2014 collaboration between the CACP and the MHCC which focused on improving interactions between police and persons with mental illness. At the 2014 conference, the theme of mental health and safety of those working in police organizations emerged as an important theme.
We recognize the dynamics of policing dictates that police personnel, and other first responders, are exposed to a unique and difficult set of job-related hazards.
Furthermore, we acknowledge that policing culture can reinforce stigma related to mental illness and it is therefore our challenge to change how we collectively treat and think about mental health problems and illnesses.
Our primary objectives for this conference were to:
- Enhance awareness of the importance and significance of psychological health and safety for all those working in police organizations and their families;
- Provide police leaders and policy makers with the necessary tools to implement and maintain a psychologically healthy and safe environment, modeled and informed by best practices under the strategic pillars of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (PH&S Standard);
- Examine and advance the evidence base in support of emerging models and promising practices; and
- Encourage the use and development of evaluation tools and outcome measures to determine the effectiveness of programs and strategies.
In order to provide greater understanding of the issues, and to develop strategies to move forward in meeting these objectives, the conference focused on six key subjects:
- Understanding the Elements of Workplace Mental Health;
- Treatment for Workplace Trauma and Acute Mental Health Issues;
- Mental Health Promotion & Intervention;
- Workplace Prevention and Resilience to Mental Health Issues;
- Showcase of Emerging Practices in Policing; and
- Town Hall on Future Possibilities in Policing.
During these panel discussions, participants examined several existing frameworks, programs and strategies. Foremost among those was the MHCC’s National PH&S Standard. Launched in 2013, the National PH&S Standard is a voluntary set of guidelines, tools and resources focused on promoting employees’ psychological health and preventing psychological harm at work.
In addition, there was considerable discussion of: the adaptation of the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) to meet the needs of the policing community; and, the opportunities available through expanded Mental Health First Aid training.
A consolidation panel, facilitated by Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner J.V.N. (Vince) Hawkes and MHCC Vice-President Jennifer Vornbrock, reviewed the outcomes from each of the sessions and, together with conference delegates, agreed that the following conclusions should stand as the official record from the conference:
- A commitment by all attendees to build upon the positive momentum created at the conference and to follow through on shifting attitudes, reducing stigma and finding new ways to address psychological health and safety in the workplace.
- A call to all police services across Canada to ensure that a clear and coherent mental wellness strategy is in place for their members and staff and to continue to create opportunities to encourage open, trusting conversations in safe environments.
- A commitment to work together to find innovative ways to share resources and best practices among police services to ensure greater availability of support to all.
- Develop and share more ‘Made in Canada’ research in the area of mental wellness in policing in collaboration with the CACP Research Foundation, MHCC and research and academic organizations.
- Continue the strong on-going collaboration between the CACP and MHCC and continued joint efforts among the policing community and mental health service providers and people with lived experience.
Both the CACP and the MHCC recognize that it takes strong leadership to realize that the mental health of its employees is as important as their physical health. We applaud all of the participants in this conference who have made the commitment to take the steps necessary to create mentally healthy workplaces.
We are also very pleased to see so many police and mental health leaders working together to change the culture, promote mental well-being, prevent mental health problems and illnesses and to make it easier to seek help when it is needed.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are committed to continuing to work collaboratively toward the development of a new national framework for police training and education, agreed upon at the 2014 conference. In addition, the MHCC and the CACP agree to continue to exchange knowledge on promising practices to reduce stigma and improve workplace mental health.”
For further information, please contact:
Timothy M. Smith
Government Relations and Strategic Communications
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
Senior Media Relations Specialist
Mental Health Commission of Canada
ABOUT THE CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police was established in 1905 and currently has greater than 1,000 members from all across Canada. Through its member police chiefs and other senior police executives, the CACP represents in excess of 90% of the police community in Canada. Our members include federal, First Nations, provincial, regional and municipal, transportation and military police leaders. The mission of the CACP is “The safety and security for all Canadians through innovative police leadership.”
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.