The pressure that comes from what you see in your career is going to have an effect on you. It is going to affect your life, your relationships, your family, your mental health, and your levels of stress. The issue for you is the stigma that surrounds mental health for police officers, first responders and military personnel. You will probably be very hesitant to put your hand up to get help. Luckily for you, there are many resources available that you can access anonymously and confidentially.
The best way to deal with the pressure and stigma of critical stress these days is to access online content through podcasts, websites, articles, online courses and books. There is so much information out there to help you inoculate yourself against what you see in your job that there’s no excuse for you not to do it. Police officers are often afraid to put their hands up for help because of the stigma and the impact it can potentially have on their career. When you work within a government department, unfortunately there are many checks and balances and a duty of care from your department to you, so it may mean that it has an impact on you. If you do the work early enough to understand how you can deal with the pressure and stigma of critical stress, you’ll never get to a point where there needs to be any sort of significant intervention in your career.
My suggestion to you is start working on it immediately. If you joined the police yesterday, today’s the best day to start working on it. If you joined the police 15 or 20 years ago, then the best time to start working on it is today. The thing for you guys is that it’s so easy for you these days in 2018 to access information via the internet. It’s on your phone, your iPad or your computer, you don’t even need to tell anybody that you’re doing it, so there’s no excuse to not get the help. The pressure from critical stress is going to have an effect because it has to. The stigma around it is definitely changing, and you can be a big part of changing that. If you have fear around being judged or being looked at as weak or a coward because of dealing with critical stress, then please get off your ass and do the work today that’ll help you get the result you want.
None of this is going to happen easily. You are absolutely going to have to do it yourself. Nobody else is coming, but these days you can do it anonymously and confidentially so that nobody ever needs to know that you’re even dealing with this issue. The more work you put into proactively dealing with the critical stress and mental health impact of the job, the less impact it will have on you long-term. If you do nothing about it, then you will end up in a place like many police of divorce, potentially losing your career, and in the most extreme circumstances, suicide.
I’ve seen so many police officers destroy their lives because they haven’t had the courage to put their hand up and get help from the impact of the things they see. The impact from what you see will definitely affect you. That’s a non-negotiable unfortunately. What I want you to understand is as you move forward through your job, if you inoculate yourself against this critical stress and trauma early, you’ll have a much better result and a far better career. It will not affect your family, you or your health anywhere near as much if you do the work to combat it early.
It’s up to you to deal with the stigma and get help before the alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, anger, marital breakdowns, estranged children and conflicts occur.