Edmonton police officer’s PTSD journey featured in book on overcoming adversity

Sgt. Michael Elliott was featured in a Canadian book, after sharing his struggle with his mental health. Dayne Winter / Global News

An Edmonton police officer who has publicly shared his struggles with mental health has been featured in a Canadian book that aims to share stories about people who overcame the odds and persevered.

Sgt. Michael Elliott, the president of the Edmonton Police Association, said he was chosen to be a voice in “Silver Linings: Stories of Gratitude, Resiliency, and Growth Through Adversity” by its author Janice Landry after she noticed him sharing his story on social media.

“I went through the anxiety and depression, and how I battled through that, with my colleagues and friends, and now I try to be a spokesperson,” Elliot said.

READ MORE: Edmonton firefighter’s death prompts discussion about PTSD, mental health

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The book was published on Oct. 21 by Pottersfield Press, and the chapter that features Elliott gave him the opportunity to share his experience.

Elliott said his personal mental health struggles came to a head, dealing with his father’s cancer diagnosis and responding as an officer to several stressful events, including a suicide, during the same period.

“The stresses [that were] occurring internally, they were now affecting me externally as well,” he explained.

He said that he tried to hide his struggle from his coworkers for some time.

“[I was] running across the High Level Bridge with my colleagues, and I mentioned I knew why people jumped off the bridge, and I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I found out after [they] were like, ‘What the heck is going on with Mike?’
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“A colleague of mine, he actually broke into my locker because I think he wanted to take my side arm, because he was afraid that I would try to commit suicide.”

Elliot said he was referred to the Edmonton Police Service’s Employee & Family Assistance Program, which connected him with a counsellor and started his road to recovery.

But he continues to share his story on social media — and in the book — in hopes that it can inspire others to ask for help.

Sgt. Michael Elliott said he continues to share his story in hopes it will help others. Dayne Winter / Global News

READ MORE: PTSD, suicide and first responders — A lot of talk, and not much progress

“I want people to be aware that if someone is changing their behaviour or attitude, ask that question,” Elliott said.

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“Don’t be afraid to ask if you are suicidal, is there something bothering you, can we talk?”

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