Sudbury police teach new officers about PTSD warning signs

Sudbury Police are trying to be proactive when it comes to mental health support for its members.
Sudbury police say there's a growing need for mental health support for its own staff. (Facebook)

Sudbury Police are trying to be proactive when it comes to mental health support for its members.

This month, the province passed a bill which addresses post traumatic stress disorder among first responders — and makes it easier for police officers to get access to treatment for the issue.

Under the old rules, first responders had to prove their PTSD was related to their job to be eligible for coverage under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

New legislation that assumes PTSD is work-related for first responders passed third and final reading by a vote of 96-to-0.

The government says first responders are at least twice as likely as the general population to suffer from PTSD, and that the condition results in more suicide attempts than all other anxiety disorders.

Sargeant Robin Marcotte said it's important Sudbury Police staff know help is available if they need it.

"They're not always aware of all the support services that are out there for them," he said.

"So identifying them, promoting them and also building that trust that they are a value in using them, is important to our organization."

Marcotte said newly hired officers are taught the importance of self-care and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. They are also taught about the signs of PTSD as soon as they're hired.

"When you're currently exposed to those types of situations, it's even more important that you're aware that you will react to those stressful situations," he said.

"It's normal to react to those stressful situations. The important part is that, if you're not able to deal with that stress, that you recognize it."

Short-term counselling is available for staff and their families through the service's Employee Assistance Program.

with files from Samantha Lui and The Canadian Press