Effects of police officer exposure to traumatic experiences and recognizing the stigma associated with police officer mental health

Elizabeth Velazquez (School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics, California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Maria Hernandez (School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics, California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Publication date: 12 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review current research on police officer mental health and to explore the reasons why police officers do not seek mental health treatment.

Design/methodology/approach

A comprehensive, systematic search of multiple academic databases (e.g. EBSCO Host) were used to identify studies conducted within the USA, identified definitions of first responders, identified the type of duty-related trauma expected by police officers, how influential stigma is amongst the police culture and what current intervention strategies are employed to assist police officer mental health wellness.

Findings

This research was conducted to identify police officer trauma-related mental health and the stigma behind seeking treatment. The research highlights job-related trauma and stress leads to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance use disorder and suicide or suicide ideation. The stigma behind seeking mental health treatment is associated with law enforcement organizations and environmental factors. Organizational factors include occupational stress characteristics such as day-to-day of the job and environmental factors such as abiding by social and law enforcement culture ideologies. Further research should be conducted to understand why law enforcing agencies and personnel are unknowingly promoting stigmas.

Originality/value

This is the most current meta-review of research examining the severity of mental health in police officers, the stigma behind acquiring treatment and innovative treatment approaches in police officer mental health. This study will provide a useful resource for those researchers interested in continuing to examine the different aspects of police officer mental health and how to potently approach innovative interventions to help law enforcement personals mental wellness thrive in a field where trauma is experienced daily.

Keywords

Citation

Velazquez, E. and Hernandez, M. (2019), "Effects of police officer exposure to traumatic experiences and recognizing the stigma associated with police officer mental health", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 711-724. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-09-2018-0147

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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