The Problems with Police PTSD – A Call for Comments
Editors Note: This is a very important topic to law enforcement officers all around the world. Please leave your comments in the box below so we can start a dialogue on this very important issue.
We have a Police PTSD Crisis: “Take care of our own” v.s. “Throwaway Cops”
We have a problem in our profession. It has to do with excessive stress caused by the job of law enforcement and, in it’s extreme form, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. We all know that the stress from this job can be toxic and at times debilitating. What we don’t seem to believe is that it can happen to us, or someone we work with, because when it does, we don’t know what to do about it. We seem to have created a paradox, which is a contradiction or a situation that seems to defy logic or intuition.
The Police PTSD Paradox is created by… the fact that we all know that stress can disable or incapacitate us on the job but when that happens to one of our own we defy logic and begin to shun them. Some agencies even do their best to throw those cops away because they feel like they are tainted or might create a liability. In many cases insurance programs don’t provide for the proper medical or mental health treatments, or enough treatment, and our medical leave programs seem wholly inadequate to respond to these situations. None of these categories seem to fit into a system for disability insurance and affected officers are left in limbo. It may just be an educational issue that we don’t fully understand the effects of stress or the causes of PTSD.
You see the crisis is not that police officers are getting PTSD, the crisis comes when agencies don’t know how to help an officer with PTSD and they treat them poorly or worse, throw them away.
I can’t count the number of calls and emails we have received at CopsAlive.com in the last six months from officers, or their family members, describing the way that officer stress is being handled by their agencies. Some stories are sad, some are tragic and some are down right despicable.
As a profession we need to develop an understanding that this job has toxic side effects and we need to first, armor ourselves against those effects and secondly, prepare ourselves and our agencies for dealing with them when they occur.
The U.S. Military is combating this same issue, perhaps in greater numbers, right now with many of the veterans that are returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If you dig deeper the issue is not just with PTSD, which has a clear set of diagnostic criteria, but with the effects of other, less acute or, cumulative stress disorders. The point is that we don’t know what to do with officers who are suffering from the effects of stress brought on by their experiences on the job.
This blog has many times reported on the “hidden dangers” of law enforcement to include alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, divorce, police officer suicide, heart disease, cancer, officer domestic violence, financial mismanagement by officers and other symptoms of people suffering from excessive stresses, burnout or even major depression. We now need to address how we will deal with the root causes of these symptoms: excessive stress.
We as a profession need to start talking about this issue and we need to come up with some solutions quickly as many, many of our comrades are falling by the wayside with these symptoms each and every day.
Please add your comments to the box below to join in this discussion online and CLICK HERE if you would like to download a roll call discussion guide on the issue of what to do with a peer who is suffering from excessive stress caused by the job.
CLICK HERE to download our CopsAlive.com “Prescription for Stress Management” roll call discussion guide.
The Veterans Administration National Center for PTSD website is an excellent resource. Check the area labeled “Search PILOTS to find published articles: PILOTS (Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress) is the largest database of publications on PTSD.” There is also a box labelled “Where to get help for PTSD”.
The VA site is here: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/
We always encourage anyone experiencing severe or crisis symptoms to call the “Safe Call Now” Hotline for first responders at (206) 459-3020. You can also learn more about Safe Call Now by visiting their website at: http://www.safecallnow.org/
We will help your agency create the kind of place that supports and protects officers so that they can do their jobs better, safer, longer and survive to tell their grand kids all about it.
CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues of law enforcement career survival. We invite you to share your opinions in the Comment Box that is at the bottom of this article.
CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence.
We do this by Helping Law Enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful lives on the job and beyond. We think the best strategy is for each officer to create a tactical plan for their own life and
The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) works with individuals and organizations to help them create and sustain success in their lives and careers as law enforcement professionals. It is the primary goal of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute to become the preeminent source for training, resources and information about how to create and sustain a happy, healthy and successful life and career while providing superior law enforcement service to your community.
At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement.
We provide stress management and Tactical Wellness for police officers and other law enforcement professionals.
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