Tag Archives: mental health

Lasting Scars From The Thin Blue Line: Former Mandurah Cops Fight for PTSD Compensation

Racked with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and frustrated by the lack of support he received from his employers, James Yates sat in his patrol vehicle contemplating death. It was thoughts of his family which stopped him pulling the trigger.

During his time as a police officer, Mr Yates came close to losing his life three times. Now medically retired from Western Australian Police, Mr Yates is fighting for compensation for medically retired police officers suffering from PTSD.

Also fighting for compensation is another former Mandurah cop – Michael Thornbury. It is almost a year to the day since he last spoke to the Mandurah Mail about his fight for compensation for medically retired officers. A year on, not much has changed.

Read more in The Guardian.

Source: www.theguardian.com.au

Relationship Between Smell And Psychological Trauma

Pamela Dalton, a cognitive psychologist, first came to appreciate the power of smell in memory formation as a graduate student, when she used olfactory cues to enhance her human subjects’ memories of unfamiliar faces. She’s now a faculty member at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, and one of the nation’s experts on the relationship between smell and memory, and, in particular, smell and PTSD.

For patients and researchers, recognizing how smell might be linked to traumatic memories represented a big first step towards finding proper treatments. “When you find yourself walking down the street, and all of a sudden your heart’s pounding at 200 bpm, and your palms are sweaty, and you find yourself wanting to run and you don’t know why,” it’s critical to gain an understanding of what’s setting off your body’s alarms, Dalton said.

Read more in io9.

Source: io9.com

Bunbury Hostage-Taker Is Escaped Mental Patient Behind Earlier Kings Park Siege

The man at the centre of the Bunbury siege is escaped Graylands Psychiatric Hospital patient David Charles Batty.

Dozens of police assembled on the banks of the Leschenault Inlet near the Bunbury CBD on Thursday evening after he allegedly strapped explosives to his body and sat in front of a hostage.

The siege came to an end early on Friday morning. After the hostage was released police fired two non-lethal rounds before swarming and arresting Mr Batty.

Mr Batty also triggered a similar siege situation in Kings Park in 2012 following which he was charged with several offences including aggravated assault with intent to commit a crime, attempting to cause an explosion with intent to destroy or damage property, and deprivation of liberty.

David Charles Batty, 53, has appeared in Perth District Court after he went missing for 13 months.

Appearing via video link from the Bunbury Courthouse, Batty was dressed in a blue t-shirt, blue pants and his wrists in handcuffs.

Prosecutor David Davidson told the court Batty had been due to be sentenced last year over the 2012 Kings Park siege where he held his elderly father hostage in a car, armed with a gas tank.

Mr Davidson said police expected to lay charges over the events in Bunbury within the next week “once the alleged victim is well enough to give a statement and officers at the scene make statements.”

Mr Dawson said Mr Batty’s escape put the spotlight on Graylands Hospital, which also faced several inquests into a spate of deaths at the facility in 2013. He said the government’s closure of wards at the facility could have compromised its security.

“If they’ve closed wards they probably have started to cut back on staff and this could have led to somebody who’s got a violent past escaping from the facility.”

Batty was remanded in custody at the Frankland Centre to appear on July 23.

Before leaving the court, Batty requested he appear in person at his next court date to let the public know about “a serial rapist is on the loose” and the release of a CCC report.

Read more in Illawara Mercury.

Source: www.illawarramercury.com.au

Oxford University Study Suggests Tetris Video Game May Ease PTSD

A new study (Computer Game Play Reduces Intrusive Memories of Experimental Trauma via Reconsolidation-Update Mechanisms) out of Oxford University suggests that playing Tetris — the venerable puzzle game featuring interlocking shapes — can keep bad memories or flashbacks at bay, easing their frequency and impact on those who have experienced trauma.

The research, from the same scientists who wrote in 2009 that Tetris reduced flashback frequency when played within four hours of a trauma exposure, could lead to development of drug-free treatments for preventing or easing post-traumatic stress and other combat-related mental health conditions.

Researchers cautioned that the combination is key to the improved scores and reduced flashbacks among the game players, adding that their research found that “playing Tetris alone … or memory reactivation alone was [in]sufficient to reduce intrusion.”

They say more work is needed to confirm the findings and develop possible PTSD preventive therapies. But they added that the study raises some interesting questions about modern living and computer engagement.

“A critical next step is to investigate whether findings extend to reducing the psychological impact of real-world emotional events and media,” they wrote. “Conversely, could computer gaming be affecting intrusions of everyday events?”

Read more in ABC13 News.

Source: www.13newsnow.com

Panel Outlines Plan To Help Phoenix Police Treat PTSD

By the end of 2010, a disturbing trend had emerged at the Phoenix Fire Department: Four of its firefighters had committed suicide in a seven-month span.

The spate prompted an overhaul in how the department dealt with mental health, according to officials, and created a streamlined program that included peer support, financial and addiction counseling and a robust website directing its users to available resources.

Now, eight months after the suicide of a former Phoenix police officer diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a city task force is recommending that the Police Department’s brass look to their firefighting counterparts.

The 13-member task force, which consists of doctors, city officials and presidents of Phoenix fire and police unions, recently released a set of recommendations to enhance mental-health services offered to the city’s first responders.

Recommendations span from specific to philosophical, urging an overall cultural change in an industry that critics say expects its employees to be mentally indestructible.

Rebecca Tiger, a Phoenix police officer and ex-wife of Craig Tiger who took his own life, said she would like to know the plan for officers after the mandatory 30-day screening but said she’s encouraged by the newfound attention to the issue.

“I liked what I was reading,” she said of the report. “I think the whole country is becoming more aware of PTSD and more accepting of it.”

Read more about the details in the AZ Central article.

Source: www.azcentral.com

Why Demographics – Including Sexual Orientation – Matter In PTSD research

As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue, and military service members continue to return home from these two conflicts, more research has been conducted to examine rates of PTSD among these service members (known in the US as OEF/OIF Veterans i.e. Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom). This research is important so that we have an understanding of the need for healthcare in newer returning Veterans (which may differ from previous generations). In reviewing some of these articles, many of which are quite well-designed, we noticed a need for some further study to understand the nuances of who develops PTSD and why.

In particular, it would be useful to examine how PTSD prevalence in US OEF/OIF Veterans depends on 1) Veterans Affairs services use (with a particular focus on non-VA users), 2) relationship status, and 3) sexual orientation.

Read the full Trauma Recovery article.

Source: trauma-recovery.net

Ottawa Police Approve Mental Health Plan For Officers

Ottawa police will begin offering formalized mental health peer support to officers in the new year, the Citizen has learned.

The force’s executive has approved a business plan to see the force invest in both efforts to build up officer mental health and then devote resources to developing a program in which cops help other cops through their mental health challenges, said Deputy Chief Ed Keeley.

The Ottawa Police Association, influenced by the findings of provincial ombudsman André Marin’s 2012 investigation into operational stress injury — an umbrella term that includes diagnoses such as workplace stress and post-traumatic stress disorder — in the Ontario Provincial Police, created what is now called the resiliency and performance group, or RPG. Association president Matt Skof and Keeley co-chair the group.

The union felt that cops couldn’t trust the service’s health practitioners and that generic wellness or employee and family assistance programs couldn’t adequately deal with the unique complexities of a police culture.

Read more in the Ottawa Citizen.

Source: ottawacitizen.com

Mental Health Crisis: Last Thing You Need Is a Uniform

Pat Allen, president of the Police Association of Tasmania writes:

A police officer in uniform represents authority, with the accompanying perception that they will take you by force to be locked up – not exactly the best way to attempt to calm a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

There are people better equipped [than police] to engage with people suffering mental health illness.

The use of uniformed police must be the very last resort and not the first port of call.

Read the full text of Pat Allen’s article in The Mercury.

Source: www.themercury.com.au

Foggy Mental Health Data Concerns

A huge drop in police figures for call-outs to mental health incidents has contradicted claims the number is increasing — leading to concerns the record keeping is flawed.

Figures released last week showed a 64 per cent reduction in police attending mentally disturbed person call-outs last year — 362 call-outs compared with 1005 call-outs in 2013-14.

The numbers contrast with claims in the Rethink Mental Health Report and comments from Police Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen.

Mr Allen said police were de facto front-line workers for mental illness sufferers — often caught up in a “revolving-door” policy where officers escorted people with mental health problems into the hospital for assessment and then followed them back out the door because they were released, he said.

Read more on News.com.

Source: www.news.com.au