Maintaining good mental health is a struggle that millions of Americans go through each year. It is an issue which has begun to gain more acceptance in public discourse, but for many acknowledging and dealing with mental health problems continues to carry a stigma which prevents them from doing so. This is true for law enforcement as well.
Last summer when riots were engulfing major cities around the country, Law Enforcement professionals were pushed to the brink, physically and mentally. While the physical risk accepted by police and other law enforcement is an obvious part of the job, the mental stress often goes undiscussed. When law enforcement becomes increasingly demonized and their jobs increasingly more dangerous due to anti-police sentiment, an incredible toll can be taken on officers’ mental health.
For instance, last summer at the height of George Floyd inspired protests, riots, and defund the police movements, Atlanta PD was involved in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks. Police and Brooks were in a physical altercation as Brooks refused to comply, physically struggled with the officers, and attempted to flee. In response, more riots ensued, public officials condemned police conduct, and officers were charged by the local DA. The reactionary condemnation of police by local government before the issue was investigated and had its day in court led to mass “call-outs” at the department and officers walking off their shifts, reported the New York Post.
Good mental health is imperative to officers doing their jobs safely and effectively. It is also essential in making sure the communities and civilians they interact with are safe and policed appropriately. Supporting law enforcement in their work and providing resources for those who may be struggling are key first steps in protecting their mental health.