Recent statistics show that in Australia there were 62 police suicides between 2000 and 2012.
Police service staff are more likely to experience a mental health problem than the general workforce. Repeated exposure to traumatic events, extreme workload pressures and long and irregular working hours are all triggers of poor mental health for people in the police service.
Suck it up
The “Suck it up culture” is rife in the police force. In 2016, 450 Victorian police officers were interviewed and highlighted the reluctance they felt about admitting mental health strain out of fear they would be removed from operational duties.
The review led to a staggering 39 recommendations, including developing a trust-fund for peer support services for all ex-police officers.
Police Minister Lisa Neville echoed the concern about the “Suck it up culture” when discussing the spike in sick leave among Victoria Police officers.
“Police tended to have a ‘suck-it-up’ culture and that often resulted, unfortunately, in very long-term leave or in the worse cases, suicide,”
the minister told ABC Radio.
Stress factors that go beyond PTSD
While post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common trigger for stress amongst police officers, there are other factors that can cause stress, these include:
- Poor management styles
- Insensitivity to personal issues
- Inconsistent rules
- Constantly changing priorities
- Increased workload and overtime
- Shift work
- Irregular work hours
- Inadequate training.
- Essential work culture shift
There are steps being taken to implement a stigma-free culture throughout law enforcement. Because of the stressful nature of the job, police officers often feel they have nowhere to turn. Furthermore, the idea of seeking help can be perceived as a sign of weakness and an indication they can no longer effectively do their job.
The shift means police officers are feeling more comfortable with putting their hand up and asking for help.
Why seeking help makes you a better police officer
- Asking for help allows you to maintain focus and energy on being an effective police officer
- Seeking help and guidance will break down the stigma and show fellow police officers that it is ok to seek help
- When you ask for support, you can find strategies to help manage stress
- Speaking to a professional can help reduce your sense of loneliness
- Building stronger relationships with friends and family is another benefit of seeking help.
- Last but certainly not least, seeking help is a way to prevent problems getting bigger.
Who can I talk to?
Blue Hope gives professional and independent support for police personnel and their families. They are passionate about helping to create strong, balanced police service employees who have the support they need to do the jobs that need doing.