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RCMP: Mental Health Strategy?

Jul 22

So, out of the blue, our Commish announces that the Member Employee Assistance Program is to cease and desist. But worry not folks, we have something else in mind to take its place. It will be a peer-to-peer program, with the additional bonus of the Federal Gov’t 1-800 #. We’re still not sure what the peer-to-peer program looks like, but it will be made available shortly. In the meantime, are we expected to ignore critical incidents and the need to debrief our members? Are we expected to call a 1-800 number like everyone else in the public service? News flash!!! We are NOT JUST public servants. This number is simply meant to lower the costs incurred as a result of our mental state because counsellors are used (and not necessarily well screened ones to deal specifically with police matters), instead of psychologists who are well versed and trained to specifically address issues associated with police work. Don’t for one second believe that the Force is trying to increase “strategies” for us to cope with our mental health. The costs for mental wellness in the Force have gone through the roof, and this is all one big cost cutting measure. A different health strategy was proposed by a member (who also happened to be a psychologist) and this was rejected. Why? Too expensive. It was far superior, and hit on everything recognized by specialists in the field.

  1. Anonymous One permalink

    I have referred to this exact topic many times when expressing my dismay and disgust in how the force is reacting to our plea for better mental health care. Getting rid of a manned EAP and replacing it with a 1-800 number? Really?? And as you noted, we are NOT typical government employees…our health issues and needs are, by vocation, obviously going to be much different, not to mention probably more pressing. How would I know to call the 1-800 number if I don’t even know what is wrong with me in the first place? PTSD isn’t your normal injury. It is cunning. It usually hides behind many symptoms and sneaks up on us. It’s not like breaking a leg and calling 1-800 to say, “Hey, I have a bone sticking out of my leg, what should I do?”. That is NOT how it works. Furthermore the stigma attached to PTSD is going to deter a member from calling. At least with EAP you had a person who saw a face, listened with his own ears and built up a trust and confidence so that the member felt comfortable sharing what is going on. But a phone??? I don’t think so. What a BIG mistake that was. A huge step backwards.
    I also truly believe that the RCMP has to include family members when dealing with such a strategy. Family members are usually the first to see the signs. I know for a fact of family members who called the RCMP asking for help because they saw these symptoms (not knowing what it was) but the RCMP turned them away and said “there’s nothing we can do”. Really??? We’re not asking you to “treat” the member, but for God’s sake, at least educate yourself on what PTSD is so that you can reach out to your members when they ask for help! Stop being so defensive and stubborn. If you truly care for your members just get with the program already.

  2. Reblogged this on Badge of Life Canada and commented:
    Gratefully with permission from Dr. Mike Webster – Re-

  3. Things are changing and getting tough on everyone, welcome to the new political reality where planes, boats and armoured vehicles top people in need.

  4. anon permalink

    Is to cease and desist? It’s already been gone for a long time in Manitoba anyway.

    I have used the MEAP service before and found that at least talking to a regular member who had an appreciation and experience in the past in the field could relate to many of the things we spoke about, including that lack of accountability by anyone higher than a S/Sgt in the RCMP.

    There is no way I would consider calling some government 1-800 help line where no doubt I’d get someone who hasn’t a clue what it’s like to be a police officer. And whether anyone wants to admit it or not, working at the taxation center or any of the other federal offices is not the same as being a front line police officer!
    Talking to a civilian also poses problems with security as many of our issues may or may not be somewhat security sensitive. Is it ok to talk to the 1-800 person about a kid blowing his head off? Or a spouse beating to death his partner? Or a baby burning in a fire? I think the help line person may just hang up on you!!

    I fully agree it’s nothing more than a cost saving measure, although pretty miniscule when you consider that there was only one or maybe two MEAP dedicated positions per province across the country. So we’re not talking about saving millions.

    Further, it sure is another of many different adopted measures which again, do nothing but support that the RCMP senior management doesn’t have member’s well being in it’s top 20!!

    Just my two cents……

  5. Buck permalink

    Well, the only thing you can say about a Force that dances to the tune of the PMO’s wishes is, you can expect the cuts and B.S. justifications to keep coming, and like a flock of grazing sheep we members allow it to occur all the way to the slaughterhouse. The gouging of health and wellbeing benefits, loss of superannuation, promised to never fall out of the top three in the police universe in PAY & COMPENSATION, we proudly now occupy position # 58 on that list, and member’s take this degradation and insult to themselves with barely the whimper of an abused animal. I have heard of an Insp. in the Lower Mainland tell a Cst. who came seeking some assistance for facing hardships not of his doing, “well you know there are food banks you can go to.”

    A 1-800 line will either be based offshore, or come under the governments temporary foreign worker program. MEAP was a joke as a management internal spy and rat service, Mental Health Strategy is a knee jerk reaction that has already cost fellow members their lives and left their families to suffer and be cast aside.

    If members do not start standing up for themselves, this will not be the end.


  6. Buck permalink

    Peer to Peer support has been going on in the Lower Mainland since 2009 with very good success in assisting members and making them feel at ease in an environment where they can feel safe, I spoke to the Chair of the group, Cpl. Stewart Robertson the other day and he advised that many members in crisis have been brought into the group in an environment of trust and non judgement. A strong referral network of trusted non RCMP Heath Service affiliated care providers has permitted a large number of members the Force has shit on and stigmatized have found safe and healthy environments of trusted professionals to help them rebuild their self awareness and resiliency. Having the Force come to the party so late smacks of desperation and a sense of indignancy that members with the right set of values and desire to help each other significantly trumps the unproven and farcical pretend to care new Human Resource posturing.


    • Stewart Robertson, Chair, Lower Mainland Members Support Group permalink

      I have applied some deep thinking into the conversation I had with Buck awhile ago, and in reading the initial post on this topic it seems that there is a sense of strong mistrust with the many programs that the Force rolls out with regularity, touting them as cutting edge, new and improved or robust and comprehensive. Anonymous one’s points are well taken, having been repeated by hundreds of other members I have had discussions with, along with the accompanying sense of frustration and anger with an organization that fails to listen to it’s people on the front lines, civilian and regular members alike on what they need to provide better service to Canadians while at the same time addressing their health and well-being.

      Most members will say their exposure and experiences with what the Force claims are medical experts in the various divisional Health Services units, causes more harm than good and adds unwarranted stress to members and their families from decisions being made by physicians in the employ of RCMP management that they have never met. Imagine if you will, a member has an established relationship with their own personal physician, based upon years of direct examination, care, and referral to further requirements of specialists in a variety of fields. Then, at some point in their career they are blindsided by Health Services doctors and OHN’s that without any previous contact or interaction with these people who now have an unethical ability to change a member’s medical profile and virtually destroy the member’s career overnight.

      I fear that these new programs of “Employee Assistance Program”, “Return to Work – Medical Discharge Program” and now the vaunted “Peer to Peer System” which looks at first blush to be a Force wanting to know and control program which I doubt will foster members trust.

      In 2010 when the Lower Mainland Member’s Support Group was formed with the simple goal of building an entity where member’s could come, seek support, build resiliency and coping skills to enable them to continue their careers knowing they were not alone, in addition to building a strong referral network to benefit all members, civilian and regular. Our group continues to flourish and grow, members gain awareness that they are not isolated in their experiences and have program of trusted, tried and true methods to help themselves and share their experiences with their fellow members. The Human Resources and Health Services of “E” Division were invited to join in but declined, by stating it would not work. Efforts were made again early in 2014 to RCMP Senior Management, again they declined to attend without knowing what they could expect. Unfortunate as this is, the LMD Member’s Support Group moves forward as the de facto “Peer to Peer” model for members helping members.

      Stewart Robertson
      Lower Mainland Member’s Support Group

      • The Other Half permalink

        Hi Stewart and All,

        I just wanted to tell you that your “imagine if you will” scenerio has in fact happened to us. A changed medical profile from an HSO who has never met let alone examined my husband has put his career and my family’s future and well being in jeopardy. I urge all members to whom this happens to bring forth a formal complaint to the College of Surgeons and Physicians. Let them decide if these HSO’s are to be bound by their Oath and Ethics or by the Rcmp admin rules.

        Furthermore, and on a different note, remember that should you call 1-800 for help, your ” call may be monitored for quality assurance” . If I seem a bit cynical it’s because I have earned every right as a result of our journey and experiences.

        Reach out for help but not to them…look to each other and know that the strength you need is within each of you. Sometimes you just have to dig…really deep.

  7. Anonymous One permalink

    I am also part of a group of members from across Canada who bonded together in 2012. We found each other thanks to social media and we have been a constant source of support for each other ever since. We are much more like “family” now than any members will ever be. To have the SUPPORT of people who care and understand is essential to our healing. Our employer does not care nor do they understand, because they choose not to. So you could say we took matters into our own hands. Cpl. Robertson is also a part of this group and I have to thank him for all he does for the membership. He is a man of honor and I truly admire him for devoting so much of his heart and soul to others.

  8. Anonymous permalink

    While I’ve been gone from the force for some years, I was referred for MEAP and no one called to assist. I was referred again….still no one called, so I wonder if it was any use in the first place. It seemed, at the time, no one gave a shit as is what I usually find in this organisation, and the ones who do get marginalized from trying to help members as though holding the force accountable to assist a member was a ‘no no’. I’ll never know why other than senior management had bigger and more interesting things to accommodate (ie. how pretty their cuff links are or that very special frosted donut they intend to acquire once in proximity of Tim Hortons).
    It makes me wonder, how can they tell if someone has PTSD by listening to them over the phone? I assume the people at the other end of the 1-800 line will have operational/policing experience to identify symptoms. Interesting….all these issues such as category-of-employees, Bill C-43, items as MEAP disbandment all seem to be a part of Bob Paulson’s own “Mein Kampf” book. Without sounding too negative, it’s very evident things have not changed in the force for years or have gotten better.


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