Mental Health Crisis Of Cops – What To Do About It?
A stressful career, pressurizing situations, trauma, crises, and growing expectations – all these characterize a police officer’s otherwise dull and drab life. On average, law enforcement officers experience no less than 188 critical incidents throughout their careers! And this is no estimate for the finding based on a 2015 study. Not everyone might know about the seldom spoken reality of responding to critical incidents almost every time, and how organizational stress can affect the very mental health of officers.
What Happens With Police Officers?
As a result of responding to critical situations frequently, police officers are likely to exhibit rough behaviors. This is because they’ve developed negative coping mechanisms or experience signs and symptoms that are graver than what we would think of. Psychopathological disorders or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are likely. Not to miss out, the stigma surrounding mental health is also a predisposing factor that causes the significant rise of issues within the department itself.
Again, a lack of effective leadership roles or mental health literacy on the part of the officers can also produce poor ways of dealing with increasing stress levels. What becomes more than necessary under such trying times is impressing upon the law enforcement community that officers have been suffering from such disorders and they need to work on them soon, or else they’ll pose hazard in the long run.
Steps That Authorities Can Take
Take a look at some necessary recommendations that can be implemented by law enforcement agencies and researchers whereby they can address these issues.
A Centralized Pool Of Mental Health Resources
The department where police officers operate should have an area earmarked for resources to aid them in attaining mental health and wellness. This can be done with a centralized zone and anyone can access the same. By doing this, two targets can be achieved – minimizing the very stigma associated with receiving assistance and, checking to see that every officer is aware of what and where they must go to seek help.
Collaboration With Mental Health Organizations
For example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and/or former law enforcement officers can extend better help. So it makes sense to partner with these organizations and influential people who have gathered all the necessary experience and expertise in the field and thereby, overcome mental health problems. In several cases, it’s seen how their presentations work wonders among officers to detect the initial signs of mental illness in themselves. Hence, enabling them to tackle the situation at the earliest.
Betterment Of Organizational Culture
Several research studies strongly point to the fact that organizational stressors contribute significantly towards the increasing pressures among law enforcement officers. This is in fact due to more than several critical incidents. Additionally, an organizational consultant can be spoken to, who will assess and even address the issues that negatively impact the department on the whole.
Partnering With Research Organizations
By establishing solid partnerships with both local and national research organizations, one can integrate all such evidence-based practices in the field. On the other hand, by not coordinating or allowing these partnerships to happen, the officers, communities, and the entire department is likely to suffer.
Collection Of Suicide Data
Data collection is a necessity. Authorities can start by checking the details of suicide rates of officers, and then contribute to a completely novel data platform. Ideally, this can be done as a partnership between the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Carrying Out Research Inside Departments
To foster good connections with law enforcement officers, conducting research within the department and determining the precise level of mental health literacy is recommended. Also, the attitudes surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of mental health are ascertained. So it wouldn’t be a problem finding out which officers are battling with stress, anxiety, depression, or PTSD symptoms.
Educate The Departments About Best Practices
It might not be known to all but the law enforcement departments utilizes Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), even when it’s found that it doesn’t necessarily accomplish what it claims to do. Researchers should form partnerships with tense departments and update them about all the least evidence-based practices. This way, only the correct measures and their proper implementation will be guaranteed.
If these steps are executed properly, stress-related issues of police officers can be kept at bay. Authorities should work closely with psychologists to help cops battle mental health issues.
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