The National Alliance on Mental Illness has reported that law enforcement officers experience conditions related to mental illness at rates that are much higher than
the general population. This includes PTSD and depression. Statistics show that 25
percent of officers have thought about suicide. In fact, police departments that are
small in size tend to have a greater number of officers that experience mental
Studies show that fewer police officers die in the line of duty than the number of
officers that die from suicide. The reason why suicide rates are high is because
police officers are first responders and experience a lot of trauma on a daily basis.
They tend to witness many tragic events, which can start to take a toll on their
mental and emotional health. It’s an issue that’s accumulative in that the impact
becomes noticeable over time.
It’s worth noting that individuals with mental health conditions become addicted to
alcohol and drugs more frequently than others, according to the National Institute
on Drug Abuse. This is linked to suicide because substance abuse increases the
Hesitance to Share Struggles
Unfortunately, many in law enforcement are reluctant to seek help because they
fear the ramifications. They are often afraid of either losing their job or weapon if
they report their mental health condition. There’s also the fear of societal stigma.
There’s a tendency to think that someone with a mental health condition is
defective. This view is worse in the police department because it can be viewed as
the person being unable to perform the duties of their job. There’s also a fear of
being viewed as weak.
One of the reasons why some police departments do not expand access to services
for mental health is because they want to prevent what may seem like policies that
are punitive in nature. For instance, an officer that reports a mental health struggle
may be assigned to desk duty. They may also have their badge and gun taken
away, which feels like a punishment.
Possible Signs of Mental Health Issues
It’s important to understand the possible signs of a mental health struggle,
especially after someone has experienced a traumatic event. It may include lack of
self-care, loss of appetite, anger, reckless behavior, isolation and changes in
personality, to name a few. You may also notice an increase in the amount of
alcohol consumed, which is often a coping mechanism. Fortunately, there is help for
anyone experiencing this challenge.
Help from American Addiction Centers
The treatment program for alcohol and substance use provided by American
Addiction Centers addresses many of the issues discussed, including the
tremendous amount of stress that police officers and others in law enforcement
face. The program is focused on providing the treatment necessary to people that
are true heroes and have dedicated their lives to keeping others safe.
Development of the program included input from clinicians who have worked with
countless officers. Some of the people that provided input were also veteran
officers, which was helpful in developing a program that’s sensitive to the actual
needs of law enforcement. The program offers a combination of dual diagnosis
treatment, research-based treatment, family support programming, and aftercare.
There is also nutrition, reintegration, and spiritual support.
American Addiction Centers have experienced a high success rate that’s twice the
national average. This is because the program treats the whole person and
addresses the varied needs of each individual. There is also a focus on helping