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Approach to mental health has evolved, Timmins police say


The Timmins Police Service says as conversations around mental health evolve, so has its approach to supporting its officers, who often deal with high levels of stress, including encountering traumatic scenes.

And where police culture often called for “sucking it up,” the approach now “is let it out.”

“Today, that’s what we’re trying to do, is encourage people to do something about their mental well-being,” said Brenda Beaven from Timmins police.

“That means that, if they’re struggling, asking for help, or if they are doing well, how are they doing well? What are the things they are doing well? And encouraging each other to continue doing well.”

“We can’t let this job wreck our employees,” said police spokesperson Marc Depatie.

“We have to do what we can to make them aware that there are resources that can prevent them from falling into, perhaps, PTSD situations or becoming a substance-abused person.”

As a former officer himself, Depatie said he’s noticed officers are more encouraged to ask for help.

If it’s a particularly traumatic case, officials said a peer support group will help the officer talk through what happened, discuss coping skills and steps for further support.

Also critical, Depatie and Beaven said, is making sure fellow officers feel comfortable talking to each other about their struggles and be kind to one another.

“These burdens that tend to eat away at you, they’re made on public display,” Depatie said.

“So that your colleagues can appreciate, ‘he had a tough day and this is how he’s dealing with it. Maybe I can lend a hand.’”

“It’s about allowing space for those conversations to come about,” Beaven added.

“And the more people do talk about it, the more comfortable people become with it.”

This is all in hopes of avoiding younger officers losing their passion for policing — and seasoned officers becoming jaded.

Instead, the goal is to offer them support system so that they can do their best work and return home in a better state of mind. Top Stories

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