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ONTARIO: New mental-health program for OPP officers offers 'one-door approach'

'The issue of stigma is still a barrier that is there for some of our members who want to seek treatment,' says OPPA president
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The provincial government announced today they have fully committed to a new mental-health and traumatic stress program to help frontline Ontario Provincial Police officers and their families.

A comprehensive mental-health program was announced Friday morning at the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) offices on Ferris Lane to assist with the mental health that front-line officers and their families face. 

The new program will provide continuous support and guidance from beginning to end and be entirely funded by the Ontario government while being run by the OPPA, said Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Sylvia Jones, who was in Barrie to make the announcement. 

Jones said not only will officers receive treatment, but so will their families.

“Our hope is to help OPP personnel with the work-related stress and post-traumatic stress that they face in their day-to-day duties,” the minister said. “These officers and their families will have confidential and personalized mental support and services.

"The services will be accessed through a one-door approach to ensure these essential front-line workers and their families can quickly and easily get connected to the supports they need and deserve," she added. 

There are exisiting resources available to OPP members, but with 12 OPP-related suicides since 2012, Jones said they are not adequately assisting those who need help.

Jones also told BarrieToday that, while the future of front-line officers will be taken care of, they will not forget those previously dealing with loss.

“The program that the OPPA is bringing forward we still have to tender, but I can assure you that past and future issues are going to be dealt with,” she said.

There are no financial figures attached to the announcement, or the date the program will be implemented, but Jones said final reports will first be received from the OPPA as the initiative moves forward.

“This will get done," she said. "We will expedite it, but we do need to got through a process first. And until that happens, we can’t really talk about the numbers."

There are currently existing resources available, but OPPA president Rob Jamieson said this program will deal with many aspects of mental health, including the stigma that's still a part of the mental-health crisis.

“The issue of stigma is still a barrier that is there for some of our members who want to seek treatment,” Jamieson said.

“We also have the internal pressures within the organization as well, which have been talked about and there is harassment and bullying that do exist and that needs to be dealt with and called out," he added. "Of course, the external pressures of trauma as officers and civilians of law enforcement are exposed to traumatic events.”

In addition to private and personalized care for individuals and their families, the new program will provide access to employee and family assistance programs, children and seniors-focused support services, tele-health support, crisis intervention specialists such as registered nurses or psychiatrists and mental-health treatment facilities.




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Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based on Barrie
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