Support for workplace illness step in the right direction

School, work and multiple social institutions are starting to implement policies on how to assist individuals with mental illnesses. But what happens in environments where mental stress is just “another part of the job?”

In an article by the CBC, Waterloo Regional Police chief Bryan Larkin said there should be more preventative measures taken for first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — a common problem in any trigger-oriented occupation. According to legislation, officers are not granted medical leave for mental illness without it being medically proven through tests and official assessment.

According to the article, a new policy will be brought forward that allows law-enforcement officers to take medical leave without having to prove their illness. This is an imperative policy for any workplace disposition. Mental illness is not an easily understood problem.

A few check marks on a medical document does not always determine the psychological implications of PTSD or other psychological complications. Disregarding mental illness in a workplace can be just as problematic as ignoring broken bones or other external injuries. It prohibits an individual from effectively doing their job and it’s important to provide support to these individuals that put their life on the line.  Every workplace should be ready to react to mental illness and refuse to sweep such issues under the rug. No matter how tough police may be, even heroes can be hurt.

It’s a step to move away from the stigmas surrounding PTSD and mental health while putting the well-being of police and emergency responders at the forefront. It’s important the proper support — physical and mental — is put in place as well as appropriate training to recognize symptoms and help in a tangible way.

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