The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Study is unprecedented in size and scope, designed to investigate posttraumatic stress injuries over a 10-year period. As part of this longitudinal study, a research team sought to understand cadets’ perceived levels of social support at the start of the Cadet Training Program. Social support can help people to cope with stressful situations; consequently, social support may impact how people navigate challenges. In addition to collecting the cadets’ baseline social support levels, the research team examined if social support was related to cadets’ sociodemographic information and symptoms related to posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and alcohol use disorder.
What did we find out?
- Cadets reported high levels of social support across the sociodemographic categories of gender, sex, age, ethnicity, marital status, province of residence, and education.
- Cadets who reported higher levels of social support were less likely to screen positive for anxiety-related mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
- Cadets reported levels of social support comparable to the Canadian general population.
- Cadets reported higher levels of social support than serving RCMP, suggesting social support decreases during service, increasing mental health risks.
Where do we go from here?
The baseline measurement of cadets’ perceived social support was necessary to understand how social support might change at various career stages. For example, comparing the level of social support at the start of the cadet training program to one year after deployment. Factors which contribute to decreased levels of perceived social support require further research. The results support recommendations that cadets and RCMP may benefit from continually cultivating supportive social relationships. The results also indicate that RCMP Depot should continue offering workshops for family and friends during the graduation program. Future researchers may consider virtual social support workshops for friends and family of RCMP.
The results help to continue advancing Canada’s first-ever National Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries, including additional investment to support the health and well-being of first responders and other public safety personnel.
The RCMP Study is funded by support from the RCMP, the Government of Canada, and the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. R. Nicholas Carleton is supported by a Medavie Foundation Project Grant. Sherry H. Stewart is supported by a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Addictions and Mental Health. The current study was supported by the RCMP, the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and a Grant from the Medavie Foundation.
*The original wording of the study was changed and condensed for the current research summary.
Nisbet, J., Jamshidi, L., Andrews, K.L., Stewart, S.H., Shields, R.E., Teckchandani, T.A., Maguire, K.Q., Carleton, RN. Mental Health and Social Support among Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cadets. Frontiers, Sec. Psychology for Clinical Settings. 2023; 14(0). doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1092334
Prepared by J. Nisbet