Nov 12 2014
CALGARY - Officers confronting recent traumatic homicide cases shows the need for a mental health program the Calgary Police Service has adopted, a deputy chief said Wednesday.
Difficulties in dealing with cases like the quintuple Brentwood slayings and the deaths of Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents Alvin and Kathryn Liknes earlier this year are what the Road to Mental Readiness Program (R2MR) is made for, said Deputy Chief Roger Chaffin.
“It’s difficult to articulate that what happens later is the challenge for us, when those people go home after doing their duty, making sure they can cope and have the courage and confidence to speak up,” said Chaffin, adding it’s vital to head off post-traumatic stress before it snowballs.
“It’s those hidden moments when they’re struggling to cope ... when post traumatic stress disorder comes up, that’s when it’s been going on for too long.”
For the past year, the force has been using R2MR — a program first developed by the Canadian military — and is now ready to expand it.
“We will always have people who require it,” said Chaffin.
Calgary’s is the first Canadian police force to adopt it and is helping other services do the same, said Edward Mantler of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
“There are similarities between soldiering and civilian policing,” said Mantler, noting 10 other Canadian police forces are embracing R2MR.
The key to the program, he said, is for those suffering to recognize their condition and to know they can seek help without encountering stigma.
R2MR also builds mental resilience and employs a colour chart to allow an individual to assess their well-being.
Also crucial is the change in attitude toward mental health issues, said Chaffin.
“We’re not far from the culture when we asked people to suck it up,” he said.
“We’ve come a long way.”