Police officers never run out of crimes to stop or emergency situations to address. Despite having training to remain calm in high-stakes situations, repeated exposure to danger and traumatic events can lead to severe stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Other factors like irregular work hours and public scrutiny can also add pressure. Without receiving proper treatment, mental health issues may start to disrupt a police officer’s professional and personal life.
About 35% of police officers suffer from PTSD
Witnessing dead bodies, assisting severely assaulted victims, engaging with criminals and being in life-threatening situations can take a mental toll on anyone, even those as strong as police officers. Contrary to popular belief, victims of traumatic events are not the only ones who experience PTSD. It may also affect those who witness it, as police officers often do.
As many as 35% of police officers suffer from PTSD. Unfortunately, misconceptions surrounding mental illnesses such as PTSD are prevalent. Those in law enforcement may perceive that having PTSD is a sign of weakness or something they need to endure as part of the job.
However, police officers are still humans who can experience fear and trauma. Not having access to the support and treatment they need could worsen their condition and affect their work and personal lives negatively.
The effects of PTSD at work and at home
Police officers frequently face situations where they must make snap decisions. The effects of PTSD, such as causing panic attacks, flashbacks and fear, may inhibit a police officer’s ability to respond to critical situations appropriately. This not only compromises their professional performance but may also put their lives at risk.
Furthermore, individuals who suffer from PTSD might struggle to adjust to their regular home life. Their anxiety, angry outbursts and other PTSD symptoms may make them want to isolate themselves from family members.
Claiming workers’ compensation for PTSD
Often, the very first hurdle police officers must overcome is acknowledging their struggles. After which, they can effectively initiate their journey toward recovery.
California recognizes PTSD as a workplace injury. Police officers and other first responders who develop PTSD while employed may file a workers’ compensation claim. With these benefits, police officers may be empowered to pursue treatment without fear of losing their jobs. In time, they may develop more effective coping mechanisms for managing trauma, potentially benefitting both their work and home life.