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Mental health services available to RCMP employees

On May 1, 2014, the RCMP launched its five-year mental health strategy for all employees.  In doing so, the RCMP Commissioner committed to following the Mental Health Commission of Canada's voluntary standards for psychological health and safety in the workplace. 

The first year of the strategy is focused on education and awareness. The RCMP already has a number of health programs and services available for its employees, and ensuring that they know how to access these services is critical. So too is breaking down stigmas associated with mental health, which is why the strategy will also help build awareness and knowledge of mental health issues. The goal is to ensure that employees are able to recognize symptoms in themselves or others early on and are comfortable coming forward to seek help.

In addition to improving employee awareness, knowledge and understanding of psychological health problems impacting the RCMP, the mental health strategy focuses on several other key objectives, including:

  • strengthening our commitment to maintain an inclusive, healthy and respectful workplace;
  • improving employee understanding of their respective roles in the prevention, early detection and intervention of psychological health problems;
  • where possible, reducing the presence and/or impact of psychological risks, and enhancing employees' capacity to manage remaining risks;
  • ensuring that those in leadership positions within the RCMP are responsible and accountable for providing employees with available support services as early as possible; and
  • measuring our psychological health and safety performance as part of the organization’s annual management review process.

RCMP Health Services and Benefits

ALL employees

Employee Assistance Services

All RCMP employees and their dependents can access the Employee Assistance Services (EAS) provided by Health Canada. EAS provides employees with eight hours of counseling per issue. Issues can be work related or personal in nature, and there is no limit to the number of issues with which an employee can request assistance.

The RCMP can also support increased organizational needs when required through Health Canada’s Specialized Organizational Services (SOS).  SOS provides a range of psycho-social services designed to strengthen employee wellness and organizational health.  Some of the services offered include:  pre-incident/resilience training, on-site post incident trauma support for employees and managers,  respectful workplace sessions and stress and anger management counseling.

Peer to Peer Program

To supplement EAS and offer extensive consultation, the RCMP has  launched a new internal peer to peer system.  

It provides all categories of RCMP employees with access to internal Peer to Peer Coordinators. Whether it’s a work related or personal issue, the Coordinators provide information on the services offered   through Health Canada’s Employee Assistance Services (EAS), and serve as a point of contact in accessing resources within the RCMP that could help.

RCMP Members (Regular and Civilian)

Peter's Story

On March 2, 2011, RCMP Cst. Peter Neily was involved in a fatal shooting in Surrey, B.C. where, in self-defense, he fired 30 rounds at a violent offender armed with an assault rifle. This is his story.

Occupational Health and Safety Services Offices*

The RCMP currently has 11 Occupational Health and Safety Services (OHSS) offices across Canada available to our members to support their health, safety and fitness for duty. Each of these offices are represented by a multidisciplinary team of health care experts. The number of professional health care resources within these teams ranges from 26 to 4, depending on member population.

Services provided through the RCMP’s health services teams to members who are suffering from a psychological health problem include:

  • medical doctors;
  • psychologists;
  • occupational health nurses;
  • occupational safety officers;
  • disability case managers;
  • return to work facilitators; and
  • duty to accommodate coordinators.

If an RCMP member is showing signs of, or is diagnosed with, a mental health condition, they are screened for risk of impaired responses or sudden deterioration in their capabilities.  Their operational responsibilities would then be adjusted in accordance with their limitations and restrictions while, at the same time, supporting their treatment.

High-risk duty areas receive increased focus and monitoring to ensure members are being assessed on an ongoing basis. Work-related health issues -- whether physical or mental -- are taken very seriously. 

*Civilian Members have access to these services when their psychological health problem is work related

Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinics*

Active members and their families may receive treatment at a Veterans Affairs Canada or Canadian Forces OSI Clinics when referred by their treating physician and approved by their Health Services Officer. For retired members and their families, OSI Clinics are administered through Veterans Affairs Canada.

RCMP’s Health Care Entitlements and Benefits Program – Psychotherapeutic Services

RCMP members have access to Canadian medical and psychological practitioners who are licensed by a provincial or territorial regulatory authority; inclusive of general physicians, psychiatrists, and community-based psychologists. The RCMP's Supplemental Health Care benefits allow coverage for the following:

  • An eligible member is covered for personal or group counseling by an approved psychologist without a referral or authorization for a maximum of six hours followed by a further six hours when preauthorized by the divisional psychologist per calendar year.
  • An eligible member is covered for couple or family counseling by an approved psychologist without a referral or authorization for a maximum of six hours followed by a further six hours when pre-authorized by the regional or divisional psychologist per calendar year.
  • An eligible member and his/her dependants may receive further couple or family treatments if preauthorized under the occupational health care level for work-related factors such as when the member is diagnosed with an OSI.
  • Eligible members may also receive further personal psychological treatment if preauthorized under the occupational health care program.  

*Civilian Members have access to these services when their psychological health problem is work related

Periodic Health Assessments

Periodic Health Assessments (PHAs) are mandatory every three years for all Regular Members*. These assessments help ensure that a member is fit to perform their assigned duties and it helps identify if the member's occupation is having a harmful effect on their health. If a member performs high–risk duties, assessments may occur more frequently.

* in unique circumstances, Civilian Members may be required to have PHAs as well. 

RCMP Members in receipt of VAC Pension Award

Both civilian members and retired RCMP members, when in receipt of VAC disability pension award, may be eligible to receive additional services from Veterans Affairs Canada. These include disability and treatment benefits as well as access to OSI clinics.  In addition, eligible RCMP civilian and retired members and their families may access VAC case management services, such as counselling, case management, screening, referral, information, advocacy support, and assistance in accessing programs from VAC or other community agencies. Veterans Affairs Canada provides these services through their respective multidisciplinary team of health care experts.  All RCMP members being released form the RCMP have access to a transition interview provided by VAC.  This interview will ensure the members have knowledge of the benefits available through Veterans Affairs Canada and will assist with further referrals to services if felt needed. 

Families of RCMP members

The RCMP provides services for families of RCMP members who are receiving treatment for an OSI, including PTSD. Services such as family and marital counseling are accessed through community service providers, while social worker services and psycho-educational programs are available through the network of VAC and CF OSI Clinics. In addition, family members can access community provider services covered through the Public Service Health Care Plan. They also have access 24/7 to the Employee Assistance Services.

Public service employees and civilian members

Public Service Health Care Plan

The Public Service Health Care Plan is designed to supplement care provided by employees' provincial health care plan and is administered by the Treasury Board. It is available to:

  • civilian members and their dependents;
  • public service employees and their dependents; and
  • the dependents of regular members

From a mental health benefits perspective, the Public Service Health Care Plan allows for services by a psychologist when prescribed by a physician.

Public service employees

Public Service Disability Insurance Plan

The Public Service Disability Insurance Plan provides for a monthly income benefit for public service employees who are unable to work for a lengthy period of time because of a totally disabling illness or injury, including when related to a mental health condition.

Provincial Workers Compensation Board Benefits

In cases where the public service employee’s mental health condition is determined, by the respective Provincial Workers Compensation Board, to be as a result of the employee’s work, the employee would be eligible for benefits from the Workers Compensation Board in the Province that they work.

The way forward

The RCMP knows that there is always more that we can do to help our employees in times of crisis or following a major critical incident. We are constantly learning from past experiences and looking to the future to find ways to make improvements. 

For instance, initiatives are already underway in some divisions, such as New Brunswick “J” Division, where the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) workshop is being piloted. Developed by the Canadian Forces, and adapted to meet the needs of RCMP employees, the workshop teaches participants how to manage the effects of a stressful work environment. The RCMP is working with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, as well as the Universities of Calgary and Toronto to study the effectiveness of these workshops.

We are also looking at expanding our participation in the Operational Stress Injury Social Support Program (OSISS), a partnership program between the Department of National Defence (DND) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). 

The program relies on trained peer-support coordinators who themselves have been injured by an operational stress injury such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. They offer support by listening to those who are suffering, drawing on similar experiences, and providing guidance on resources available in DND, VAC and their own community. The program also provides support to family members.