Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (October 2014)

This report is just as important today as it was 7 years ago. Worth repeating.

About one in six members of the Canadian forces have experienced symptoms of mental-health or alcohol disorders over several months in 2013, a new Statistics Canada survey reveals.

The Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey 2013, released on August 11, 2014, found that 16.5% of regular, full-time members had experienced symptoms consistent with at least of one of the six selected disorders: major depressive episode, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.

Developed by Statistics Canada in collaboration with the Department of National Defence, the survey involved about 6,700 full-time members regardless of deployment history in 1,500 reservists who were deployed in Afghanistan. The members were interviewed from April to August 2013.

Major depressive episode was the most common disorder, with 8% of members meeting the criteria in the year prior to the survey. Episodes were defined as periods of two weeks or more with persistent depressed mood or loss of interest in normal activities.

The study notes that 5.3% members reported symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder in the year prior to the 2013 survey, while 4.7% reported symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety disorder and 3.4% had symptoms consistent with panic disorder. As well, 4.5% of regular, full-time members met the criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, with 2.5% reporting symptoms that were consistent with alcohol abuse and 2% with alcohol dependence.

The survey’s findings come on the heels of the RCMP’s announcement in July 2014 that it had begun tracking officer suicides, in the wake of four suicides among officers and retirees this year.

My opinion

The Canadian government must acknowledge that the military are under constant stress and we all know that everyone handles stress differently.

The Ministry of Defence is taking action to protect those that protect us and recognition of the problem is a very good first step.

I do hope that the full-time, or reservists get the help they so drastically need. The DOD is moving in the right direction.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

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Daniel L. Beal 

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.