Post-Moncton collective trauma 'very real' says psychologist

The psychological effects of the Moncton tragedy may be felt for some time, according to a clinical psychologist who treats patients for trauma and anxiety.

Members of Codiac RCMP given time off to recoup

A woman watches the funeral procession for three RCMP officers killed. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

The psychological effects of the Moncton tragedy may be felt for some time, according to a clinical psychologist who treats patients for trauma and anxiety.

Dr. Owen Kelly says it's possible that large numbers of people may be feeling traumatized in the wake of last week's police shootings in Moncton.

The regular members of the Codiac RCMP have been given some days off to recoup after the week of strong emotions and hard work.

However Kelly, who practises at the Ottawa Institute of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, said the notion of collective trauma is very real and can apply to just about anyone who consumed media reports and images.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer reacts during the regimental funeral. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)
“Some examples recently might be like the Boston Marathon bombing, 9/11. These have been studied and it appears that people who have been involved in these sort of mass traumas really do have symptoms and physiological changes that are very much similar to PTSD,” he said.

Kelly said it's possible that a small tightly-knit community like Moncton would feel it even more.

He said anyone who may have been excessively consuming reports and images about the incident could be at risk, no matter where they are.

He said it's normal for anyone to feel symptoms such as intense dreams or difficulty talking about it in the short term.

However, if the symptoms last more than a few months, he said it could indicate post-traumatic stress disorder.

Nick Leblanc, the head of the police commission, said the Codiac RCMP will see replacements from all over New Brunswick and Canada.

He said the RCMP is also providing counselling to the members of the Codiac detachment.

RCMP assistant commissioner Roger Brown said families of Codiac members are also affected. He said some children of officers are scared about their moms and dads going back to work.

In Moncton there are still reminders of the tragic events of last week. 

RCMP continue to search the same formerly locked-down area in Moncton for unfamiliar objects. They are also going door-to-door taking statements from those in the neighbourhood.