Police officers frequently deal with situations that could negatively affect their mental health and emotional stability. The study conducted by Fox et al. (2012) reveals that out of 150 examined police officers, less than half seek help from a psychologist, 19 percent suffer from alcohol abuse, 24 percent have post-traumatic stress disorder, and 9 percent have depression. The reasons why police officers are often reluctant to get mental health counseling are discussed in the present paper.
The primary reason is that police officers are victims of a stigma on their job. More precisely, citizens expect officers to be brave, strong, courageous, and always willing to help others. This way, the majority of police officers are afraid of admitting it to themselves and other people that they also have worries, fears, and need mental health problems. Besides, officers are concerned with the issue of privacy. It is a common misconception that if an officer uses the help of a counselor, the latter informs the police department of it.
The truth is that for professional psychologists and counselors, police officers are equal to common patients whose personal information they cannot disclose. To encourage officers to get mental health counseling, they should be frequently told that it is normal to ask for help and that their personal information and everything they will tell a specialist during the appointment are kept private. Besides, it is necessary to remind police officers that their primary responsibility is to help civilians and that they would not be able to cope with their responsibilities decently when their mental health is unstable. Every police department should have at least one counselor whom police officers trust and with whom their feel free to share emotions.
Fox, J., Desai, M. M., Britten, K., Lucas, G., Luneau, R., & Rosenthal, M. S. (2012). Mental-health conditions, barriers to care, and productivity loss among officers in an urban police department. Connecticut medicine, 76(9), 525–531.