Canada’s national police force is looking to launch a study into the mental and physiological markers for depression, addictions and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in its officers.
Details of the study are outlined in a request for proposal listed on the federal government’s buy and sell website, which shows the RCMP is looking to hire a multidisciplinary team of experts, including psychologists, clinicians and psychiatrists, to conduct the research.
“These specialists will collaborate with the RCMP starting at the cadet level, and then conduct a longitudinal experimental study that will follow those cadets over the next 10 years,” Cpl. Annie Delisle, a spokesperson for the RCMP, wrote in an email response to CBC News.
CBC was told an interview could not be accommodated by the time of deadline.
Researchers would be required to focus on identifying the psychological and physiological markers for operational stress injuries like PTSD in officers.
“This research will be used to develop innovative evidence-based interventions to increase resiliency and to deliver preemptive interventions to protect the mental health of police officers,” according to Delisle.
The RCMP says despite current strategies to prevent mental health issues, it continues to lose officers to stress and trauma related injuries.
In 2016, the RCMP said 249 new long-term disability claims were filed and of those 46.9 per cent cited mental health issues. In 2014, that figure was 41.7 per cent.
Research ‘long overdue’
B.C’s Dr. Jeff Morley, a retired Mountie turned registered psychologist who works with first responders and members of the Canadian Forces and Veteran Affairs Canada, welcomes news of the study.
He said the psychological toll police work has on individuals is well known and that research of this scope is “long overdue.”
“When we hire new cops they’re pretty healthy. They’ve got physical tests, psychological tests, they’re polygraphed, they’re background checked, I mean arguably they’re pretty squeaky clean, right? And we know they’re not going to stay that way.
‘We know that some police officers, you know, are going to develop PTSD,…