The city’s police service hopes to keep a clinical psychologist on staff moving forward after a year of proven benefit to its officers.

The service says the doctor has helped with the mental health and overall well-being of nearly 100 officers since last year.

The Saskatoon Police Service hired an in-house clinical psychologist in September 2018 on a temporary one-year contract to help with the service’s mental health strategy. The psychologist was hired to conduct psychological assessments for members working in high risk units including the Child Exploitation Unit, Forensic Identification, Collision Analyst, Sex Crime and Child Abuse and Homicide investigators.

Over the 12-month span, the psychologist met with 94 officers from those high risk units and conducted psychological assessments.

“It was recognized that the nature of this work exposes employees to a number of potentially traumatic events or stressors that could negatively impact their mental health,” says a report heading to the Board of Police Commissioners next week.

Only 52 of the 94 officers assessed completed a survey, only about a 55 per cent response rate, and three-quarters of respondents say the assessment was beneficial to their mental health. 65 per cent of those who filled out the survey say being mandated to participate in these assessments helped reduce anxiety while 30 per cent said they would not have met with a psychologist had they not been mandated too.

A recommendation heading to the Board of Police Commissioners calls for an internal psychologist to fill and cover any gaps in the police service’s mental health strategy. The report outlines having a permanent full-time clinical psychologist is critical in reducing the number of long-term illness and injury-related absences, while also improving the day-to-day functions of its members.