Queen’s University adjunct professor, clinical and correctional psychologist (Correctional Service of Canada) and mental health advocate Dorothy Cotton has been awarded the Order of Ontario, the highest citizen honour in the province.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Cotton has been working with police organizations to help them change the way they respond to people with mental health challenges.
“This is more than just recognition of my work,” says Dr. Cotton, who works for CSC in the Ontario Region supporting Health Services. “I’m symbolic of the huge amount of work that has been undertaken between police and mental health agencies. I didn’t invent the field but my approach brought people together.”
She provides a variety of services to police organizations including pre-employment and fitness for duty assessments, program development, and research consultation.
Dr. Cotton is also well known for her work in the area of police interactions with people with mental illnesses and received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in this area.
Dr. Cotton, who has taught at Queen’s since 1986, says one of her proudest accomplishments is developing the TEMPO model (Training and Education about Mental Illness for Police Organizations). It provides a blueprint for Canadian law enforcement officers to help them interact with people with mental health challenges in the field.
She is Canada's only Diplomat in Police Psychology, an honour awarded by the Society for Policy and Criminal Psychology. Dr. Cotton has also worked extensively with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
She also talks about her work, in early 2000, that brought law enforcement and mental health professionals together in one room.
“We convinced the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to get involved and we hosted our first conference that featured half police officers and half mental health workers. It resulted in new programs and strategies for working with people with mental health challenges.”
The official Order of Ontario ceremony took place on Feb. 27.
Dr. Cotton admits the whole process has been a bit overwhelming.
“The whole experience has been very hard to get my head around. I’m just a normal person. Receiving this honour is very exciting.”
The Order of Ontario recognizes individuals whose exceptional achievement in their field have left a lasting legacy in the province, in Canada and beyond.
Order members come from all walks of life, represent diverse professions, and have played an important role in shaping our province.