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Describe Mental Health Management For Police Officers (Research Proposal Sample)


The task was to identify the stressors that interferes with mental health of police officers


Mental Health Management for Police Officers
The aim of this study is to investigate mental health management among police officers. Law enforcement officers are normally subjected to enormous stress owing to the nature of their work. For instance, officers normally engage in deadly confrontations, and this often leaves some of them traumatized from the experience. The stress police officers experience emanates from two different sources, and they include organizational stress and operational stress. Organizational stress refers to the stress that officer experience within the departments or organizations they work for, while operational stress refer to stress officer experience when discharging their duties, for example, during patrols. This study seeks to investigate the role played by perceived organizational support in influencing officers to seek professional help while under stress because support from the organization is one of the key determinants of whether officers will seek mental health services.
Keywords: Stress, Police Officers, Mental Health Management
Mental Health Management for Police Officers
Police officers perform one of the most stressful jobs in the planet because they are more likely to be subjected to violence and death or witness them. The stress that police officers are subjected to can significantly affect their mental and physical health and it accumulates over years of service. Some of the most common challenges police officers struggle with include PSTD (posttraumatic stress disorder), suicidal thoughts, depression, and alcohol abuse (Tucker, 2015). A survey done by NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) found that one every four police officers had experienced suicidal ideation at some point in their career, and the rate of suicide even in small police departments is nearly four times that of the general population. Furthermore, the survey found that the suicide rates among police officers is four times compared to firefighters (National Alliance for Mental Illness, 2017).
The survey by NAMI also found that approximately 7 to 19 percent of police officers showed signs of PTSD compared to 3.5 percent prevalence in the general population. Moreover, suicides cause more deaths among police officers than homicides; suicides causes 2.3 times more deaths than homicides (National Alliance for Mental Illness, 2017). In spite of the concrete evidence that police officers are overrepresented in cases of mental illness, surveys have shown that they are less likely to use therapy from a professional. Some clinicians and researchers have argued that law enforcement officers are reluctant to seek therapy from professionals because of confidentiality concerns and the stigma attached to the disorders. Most of the researchers that have cited confidentiality and stigma as the main reason police officers do not seek mental health services have relied on subjective evidence (Tucker, 2015).
For law enforcement officers to benefit from science-based treatments for their stress, it is important to comprehend the effects different types of stresses have on the police and the type of proved behavior and administrative approaches that can lower the stress they experience on a daily basis. The daily stresses that the police experience are caused by the several interactions they have with the communities during patrols, and these range from deadly confrontations to polite conversations (Miller, 2015). One of the factors that researchers have failed to explore in depth is the perception of organizational support among the police. Perceived organizational support is the degree in which workers believe that the compant they work for value their input and cares about them (Tucker, 2015).
This study will seek to determine the effect of perceived organizational support (POS) on the likelihood of law enforcement officers to use mental health services when in distress. The contribution of this study to policy is that understanding the factors that influence the likelihood of police officers to utilize mental health services in a crucial step in dealing with the negative outcomes of the stress police undergo. Previous studies on the issue have mainly concentrated on the degree of stress, causes of stress, and the negative outcomes of stress if left untreated. Based on the findings of previous studies, the stress experienced by the police emanates from various sources, and they have been placed into two categories that include organizational and operational stresses (Tucker, 2015).
Operational stressors refer to the type of stress that come from the duties and demands placed upon police officers by their job. Some of the known operational stressors include duty-related violence, too much paper work, working overtime, the nature of the shifts, and dangerous incidents (Tucker, 2015). Organizational stressors have been defined as those that emanates within police departments, especially from interpersonal interactions that are semi-military and highly hierarchical in nature. Some of the obvious organizational stressors are perceived biases in assignment allocation, favoritism in disciplinary procedures, little chance for promotion, pressure from superiors, and lack of support from the administration. Several studies have documented that stress emanating from the organization may affect the police more than occupational stressors (Tucker, 2015).
Literature Review
Sources of Police Stress and Negative Consequences
According to a study done by Bell and Eski (2015), police officers in the UK suffer from a higher prevalence of mental disorders, especially posttraumatic stress disorder, with the prevalence of the disorder being four times that of the general population. The prevalence of PTSD among the police in the UK stood at 13 %. Law enforcement officers suffer from the same mental disorders that affects the general population, but their disorders are further complicated by exposure to traumatic incidents on a regular basis. Demographics affect the likelihood of law enforcement officer developing mental disorders, with studies showing that male police officers have a higher risk of committing suicide compared to their female counterparts. In addition, middle-aged police officers between the ages of 45 and 49 years have a higher risk of suicide with their rate of suicide being 3.5 times compared to their female counterparts (Bell & Eski, 2015).
The above statistics are worrisome given the fact that police officers are reluctant to seek mental health services for fear of stigmatization, and this further intensifies the mental health problems they experience. Most of the stigmatization law enforcement officers are subject to occur in the workplace and the rest come from friends and family (Bell & Eski, 2015). Moreover, fear of being declared unfit to practice is another factor that makes police officers with mental disorders to be reluctant to seek mental health services. The experience law enforcement officers have in interacting with people with mental disorders in the criminal justice system also shapes how they perceive and understand mental illness, and this makes them reluctant to look for professional help (Bell & Eski, 2015).
The roles police officer play is naturally dangerous, and they are required to show moral and physical courage. Within this context, if a police officer fails to show emotional control, he/she is considered weak, and this makes most law enforcement officers to control their emotions when responding to critical situations (Miller, 2015). This leads to cumulative or chronic stress, which builds over time caused by personal or work related problems. In some cases, the cumulative stress may emanate in the life of a police officer in the form of suicides, poor quality work, being very aggressive, domestic violence, and substance and alcohol abuse. Experts in mental health management have advised that destigmatizing mental disorders is one way of creating a supportive environment that will encourage police officers to seek help for their problems. One way of destigmatizing mental disorders is having leaders within the police force seek mental health services publicly (Miller, 2015).
A study done by the NIJ (National Institute of Justice) examined the physical, psychological and emotional reaction of more than 80 law enforcement officers and sheriffs involved 113 incidents where suspects were shot. The study sought to capture the exact thoughts that go through the mind of law enforcement officers when they take part in the shootings. Moreover, the study also sought to unravel how facing lethal force impact on what law enforcement officers feel, hear and see (National Institute of Justice, n.d.). Previous studies done on the same issue have found that police officers who take part in shootings experience post-shooting trauma, which has been defined as a type of PTSD with symptoms such as depression, guilt and suicide ideation. Other studies have found that the majority of officers involved in shootings experience a few negative emotions for a long time (National Institute of Justice, n.d.).
The study done by NIJ found that the majority of police officers reported that shortly before and during the shooting they experienced a variety of physiological, emotional and psychological ef...
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