The response must be 250 words and use at least 2 scholarly citation(s) in APA format. Any sources cited must have been published within the last five years. Acceptable sources include texts, articles, presentations, the Bible, blogs, videos, etc.
Textbook: Raines, S. (2020). Conflict Management for Managers: Resolving Workplace, Client, and Policy Disputes (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN: 9781538119938
Policing is one of the most stressful professions in the world. Officers are exposed to traumatic events that can lead to psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. They have some of the highest mortality and health morbidity rates compared to other professions. In addition to witnessing traumatic events, officers also have erratic work schedules which lead to insomnia, weight fluctuations, gastrointestinal problems, and hypervigilance. This literature review highlights the major causes of officers’ trauma and stress.
The stress that officers experience comes from two sources, operational and organizational. Operational stress refers to experiences from the job itself. The highest-ranked stressors in policing are killing someone in the line of duty, witnessing a fellow officer get killed, or discharging a firearm at someone (Violanti & Aron, 1995). Officers also experience other forms of trauma which left untreated can lead to mental health issues. The greatest source of stress for officers comes from within the organization. Shift work has been identified as the primary stressor for officers. It disrupts their family life, social life, and it leads to insomnia. Other stressors within the organization come from a lack of support, a heavy workload, conflict with supervisors, and time pressures (Violanti & Aron, 1995).
With all of the trauma and stress that officers face, many do not seek help. This is attributed to the work culture within the police profession. When the police force was mostly made up of white men, they instilled values that promoted resilience, strength, personal courage, and sacrifice. In a male-dominated profession, masculinity is an overriding feature in policing. Officers did not openly discuss mental health issues to avoid the appearance of being weak. Officers are trained to back up other officers in dangerous situations. Officers who have mental health issues are sometimes shunned by other officers because they weaken the image of a police officer (Soomro & Yanos, 2018).
Once an officer has been identified as having mental health issues, they become stigmatized. The police culture has a direct impact on stigma. The literature review identified three different sources of stigma. Public stigma occurs when the public endorses a prejudice about a particular stigmatized group. The stigma of people with mental health illnesses is second only to people living with AIDS/HIV. The public creates a social identity for the police and when an officer does not meet that perception, it results in discrimination, loss of status, and lost opportunities (Bell & Eski, 2015).
The stigma that officers experience from the public often leads to self-stigma. It requires that the officer believes in the stereotype that is set by the public. When they don’t meet the standard, officers begin to view themselves as inferior. That leads to a breakdown in self-confidence and a loss of self-esteem (White, et al., 2015). Officers also experience structural stigma which comes from institutional policies toward a particular group. The level of support from a police department has a huge effect on an officer’s mental health. The policies implemented may not be intentional but if it implies that officers may be removed from their position or they will be singled out, fewer officers will be willing to come forward. Some departments that promote mental health are still viewed with skepticism by officers as mere “window dressing” (Bikos, 2020).
Officers deal with trauma and stress through coping mechanisms. Two different coping strategies have been identified. Adaptive coping is healthy choices and examples would be physical fitness, family/friend support, and counseling. However, most officers use maladaptive coping which alcohol and drug use are the most prevalent. These maladaptive strategies exist because of the male-dominated police culture (Gutschmidt & Vera, 2022).
Bell, S. & Eski, Y. (2015). ‘Break a leg – It’s all in the mind’: Police officers’ attitudes towards colleagues with mental health issues. Policing: An International Journal, 10(2), 95-101.
Bikos, L.J. (2020). “It’s all window dressing:” Canadian police officers’ perceptions of mental health stigma in their workplace. Policing: An International Journal, 44(1), 63-76.
Gutschmidt, D. & Vera, A. (2022). Organizational culture, stress, and coping strategies in the police: an empirical investigation. Police Practice Research, 23(5), 507-522.
Soomro, S. & Yanos, P.T. (2018). Predictors of mental health stigma among police officers” the role of trauma and PTSD. Society for Police and Criminal Psychology, 1-9.
Violanti, J.M. & Aron, F. (1995). Police stressors: Variations in perception among police officers. Journal of Criminal Justice, 23(3), 287-294.
White, A.K., Shrader, G., & Chamberlain, J. (2015). Perceptions of law enforcement officers in seeking mental health treatment in a right-to-work state. Journal of Police Criminal Psychology, 31(1), 141-154.
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