The Mental Health of Personel: What We Know and What We Need to Know and Do

February 16, 2017

The mental health and safety of police personnel continues to be a high priority for both the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). In 2015, the two organizations co-hosted ‘The Conference on Mental Readiness’ and committed to working together towards shifting attitudes, reducing stigma and finding new ways to address psychological health and safety in the workplace.

Since then, many police organizations have made considerable progress applying progressive solutions and encouraging us all to change how we think about mental health. But there are still gaps in our knowledge, in our confidence and in our collective actions.

‘The Mental Health of Personnel: What We Know and What We Need to Know and Do’ conference brought together 200 delegates to work through a structured program to advance evidence-based solutions for the effective prevention, treatment and recovery from the mental health issues that can potentially affect all our police personnel. Participants included police leaders and personnel, mental health practitioners, educators, researchers and members of the police community.

“If police personnel can come forward with their mental health concerns, without fear of job limitation or loss of employment, that sets an example for workers right across the country,” said Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO.

“We recognize the dynamics of policing dictate that, in addition to the general stressors that affect all workplaces, police personnel are also exposed to a unique and difficult set of job-related hazards. A culture of needing to be strong and brave can reinforce stigma related to mental illness. It is therefore our challenge to change how we collectively think, prevent, treat and respond to mental health and wellness concerns within the policing community,” stated Directeur Mario Harel, President of the CACP. “To truly succeed, changes must be seen and felt throughout our organizations and, most importantly, by our front-line officers.”

The overall objective of the conference was to introduce and establish a shared call to action, to move beyond exploration and awareness, and instead, to focus the conference efforts on actionable strategies across three tracks of the program: a) Research and Evidence; b) Continuum of Care; and c) Human Resources and Police Operations.

The goals of the Conference were to:

  • examine the current state of research and evidence
  • explore promising practices
  • understand the unique challenges and implication of dealing with major critical incidents
  • identify strategies for police operations and human resources.


A consolidation panel, facilitated by the Conference Lead Moderator Norm Taylor, included Directeur Mario Harel (President, CACP), Tom Stamatakis (President, Canadian Police Association), Dr. Nicholas Carleton (University of Regina, Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment) and Carolanne Inglis-McQuay (Saskatoon Police Board member). The panel reviewed the outcomes from each of the sessions and, together with conference delegates, agreed that the following conclusions should stand as the official record from the conference:

  1. The overwhelming consensus of all delegates is that the time to move forward is now. Many solutions already exist and we need to rapidly advance evidence-based practices that can best support all police personnel.
  2. Progress is being made, however, there remains a call to all police services across Canada to ensure that a clear and coherent mental wellness strategy is in place for their members and staff and to continue to create opportunities to encourage open, trusting conversations in safe environments.
  3. While all partners (Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian Police Association, Canadian Association of Police Governance, Public Safety Canada, Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment, and the Mental Health Commission of Canada) recognized the shared ownership that will be necessary to success, the CACP has agreed to assume leadership in the coming months to bring these partners together towards a collaborative national approach with clear, attainable goals, timelines and measures of success.
  4. Within the next 5 weeks the CACP President will consult with its Human Resources and Learning Committee (champions on the CACP mental health file) to develop the action plan for consideration and approval by the CACP Board of Directors on March 30, 2017.
  5. All partners share the view that the mental health of police personnel should be recognized as a ‘mission critical’ priority within every police service. While not all police services may have the necessary resources to support a comprehensive approach, through collaboration across the system the mental health needs of all police personnel can be, and must be, addressed.
  6. All partners recognize and acknowledge recent statements and directions from the Government of Canada and look forward to continued engagement with the Minister of Public Safety Canada as a key partner in these efforts.
  7. The CACP values its relationship with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and looks forward to our continued collaborations.

We applaud all of the participants in this conference who, once again, have made the commitment to take the steps necessary to create mentally healthy workplaces. Police and mental health leaders are working together to change the culture, promote mental well-being, prevent mental health problems and illnesses and to make it easier to seek and find help when it is needed.

We also thank our colleagues from the Canadian Police Association (CPA), the Canadian Association of Police Governance (CAPG), the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) and Public Safety Canada (PSC) for their collaboration in bringing this conference together.


For further information, please contact:

Timothy M. Smith
Government Relations and Strategic Communications
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
Mobile: (613)-601-0692

Hélène Côté
Senior Communications Advisor,
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Office: 613-683-3952   Mobile: 613-857-0840


The full agenda with guest presenters can be found online at:


The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police was established in 1905 and currently has greater than 1,000 members from all across Canada.  Through its member police chiefs and other senior police executives, the CACP represents in excess of 90% of the police community in Canada.  Our members include federal, First Nations, provincial, regional and municipal, transportation and military police leaders.  The mission of the CACP is “The safety and security for all Canadians through innovative police leadership.”


The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together we create change.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.


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