The lawyers at Aaron Waxman & Associates are experienced with Disability, Personal Injury and Employment claims.
In a previous blog, we discussed post-traumatic stress disorder and operational stress injuries and looked at the Ombudsman’s report regarding Toronto Paramedic Services.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has also been examining the importance of mental illness of OPP staff and training the OPP force with respect to mental illness awareness.
The OPP recently announced that it is introducing a mental health strategy, “Ontario Provincial Police, Mental Health Strategy: Our People, Our Communities”, which is aimed at helping its officers with their own mental health as well as those they deal with on the job. OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes says by supporting the health of its officers, the OPP force will be better able to serve the community and be more aware of the complicated mental health issues of the communities it serves.
OPP officers will receive training to understand different types of mental illness including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The mental health strategy includes priorities such as increased officer training, development of transfer of care protocols and improved data collection. The OPP wants to be in the best possible position to deliver services to people in the communities they serve with mental health issues.
In Ontario, we have 4 speciality mental health hospitals, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores), Royal Ottawa Health Care Group (The Royal), and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care (Waypoint). All 4 specialty mental health hospitals provided input and support to the OPP during the consultation phase and will continue to provide strategic advice/expertise to the OPP with respect to mental health issues.
It is noteworthy that OPP has more than 8,000 employees serving more than 13 million people in 324 municipalities.
The “Our People” part of the mental health strategy is important because the OPP is committed to maintaining a healthy workplace and supporting its workforce. According to their website, the OPP “recognizes that any member – civilian, uniform or auxiliary, active or retired- may become, or may have been involved in critical incidents. As well, members and their families face other stresses at work, and at home”. The OPP offers help in the form of programs and resources that members, retirees and their families can access. The OPP has a Wellness Unity that provides targeted programming including the Critical Incident Stress Response/Peer Support Program, Employee Assistance Program and other wellness programs.
The “Supporting Our Communities” part of the strategy relates to police interactions with people with mental health issues. Since police are often called as first responders for what are known as non-criminal social disorder situations that arise because of underlying mental health issues and in Canada it seems that police interactions with people who experience mental health issues appear to be increasing. Since 2007, the OPP has seen a 42% increase in calls for service relate to mental health. Some recommendations from the new mental health strategy include improving data collection, conducting ongoing program evaluation, supporting development of transfer of care protocols, increase early referrals to mental health services, enhance training for frontline responders and facilitate the development of police/mental health collaborative response models.
It is significant that the Ontario Provincial Police has developed this mental health strategy to educate their police force about mental health, stigma, how to handle calls related to mental health issues and how to help their own staff.
As mentioned previously, Aaron Waxman & Associates is a proud sponsor of The Tema Conter Memorial Trust (TEMA), which is an organization founded by a paramedic who wanted to help other first responders dealing with PTSD and OSI, and to let them know that, “Heroes are Human”. TEMA is a Canada wide organization that provides peer-support, family assistance and training for Canada’s public safety and military personnel dealing with operational stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The lawyers at Aaron Waxman & Associates are experienced short-term and long-term disability lawyers. The firm offers a free, no obligation initial consultation and our lawyers are available to meet or speak in person, by telephone or via Skype.
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