VIDEO: Retired Windsor Police Inspector Speaks Out About PTSD
A retired Windsor police inspector is advocating for more awareness about mental health issues, after he himself, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Bill Donnelly was the inspector in-charge of Major Crimes at Windsor Police in October 2013, when he had a breakdown at work.
It was a busy time as detectives were investigating a high-profile murder downtown, there had been a robbery and an 18-year-old girl had been reported missing.
He says personnel was stretched to the limit and so was he.
He broke down when then-acting Staff Sergeant Brad Hill, who is now the deputy police chief in Windsor, asked him a simple question, 'Are you ok?'
"That question to me was my opportunity now to let people know that I'm not ok and I broke down, I remember struggling for breath, dizzy, tunnel vision, crying, sobbing and Brad was great."
Donnelly went on sick leave, went through counselling and had suicidal ideations. He wanted to return to work, but ended up at Homewood Psychiatric Hospital in Guelph for two months which he says, 'saved my life.'
Back in 1993, Donnelly was one of the first police officers to arrive on scene of a fatal house fire where a child died, and he says he never dealt with the traumatic scenes of that day which culminated in 2013.
Speaking on Sunday Morning Live, Donnelly admits things are changing, but there is still a lot of work to do.
"20-30 years ago, we threw around terms like schizo and crazy and lunatic on a regular basis," he says. "Mental health issues were not only trivialized, but used like a weapon against people."
He believes a mental illness needs to be handled the same way as a physical illness.
"We need to be able to go to the psychiatrist or psychologist like we are going to the dentist. You have to go to the dentist you say hey, I'm cutting out I'm going to the dentist, but think about that same conversation if you tell your co-workers, I'm going to take the afternoon off, I'm going to see the psychiatrist."
On Friday, the federal government announced $11-million into research of Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries in public safety personnel ranging from firefighters, police officers, paramedics and correctional officers.
"Public safety personnel put themselves in harm's way to protect Canadians, putting themselves disproportionately at risk of post-traumatic stress injuries," says Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale. ""Our country must do more to protect the mental well-being of public safety officers on-the-job."