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Study raises concerns over mental health of EPS members
Debra Clark , CTV Edmonton
Published Friday, February 19, 2016 4:58PM MST
Last Updated Friday, February 19, 2016 7:08PM MST
A new police report indicates nearly half of EPS long-term disability claims are for mental health reasons – many related to depression.
The statistics were included in a report presented to the Edmonton Police Commission at City Hall on Thursday.
“I think everyone on the force at one time sees, feels and experiences something [that causes them to] feel depressed,” said police chief Rod Knecht.
The report also suggested that EPS review its fatigue management program and continue to look at how officers feel about their job and their employer.
According to chief Knecht, officers have access to a “robust” support system.
“The important thing is […] how are we responding as an organization when our members come forward and say ‘I need help.’ And I would say in the Edmonton Police Service, the help is there.”
The report showed 44 per cent of sworn and civilian EPS members going on long-term disability are doing so for a mental health reasons. Nearly 50 per cent of short-term disability claims are related to depression.
Chief Knecht admits it’s been a particularly difficult year.
“We had the death of a member that had an impact on the entire organization and the community at large. We also had the Mac’s employees that were murdered – again, the first responders see the worst of the worst,” he said.
The report presented also included information from a recent survey of Vancouver police officers on the topic – about 32 per cent of officers in that city fell into the range of diagnosable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Knecht said that while officers may experience mental health problems, the symptoms may not enough to make a clinical PTSD diagnosis.
“Depression or that sort of thing is [very individual], so we’ll have some [people] who see something horrible or deal with something very difficult and they are back to work the next day,” he explained.
EPS plans to move forward with an engagement survey.
“In the past we’ve had people suffer in silence, there’s a stigma attached to it – that doesn’t help anybody,” said Maurice Brodeur with the Edmonton Police Association.
In Edmonton, only four PTSD claims were accepted by the Workers' Compensation Board in 2015.
With files from Nicole Weisberg and Michel Boyer