Kevin Bell

Mental Health In Law Enforcement

Times have changed in law enforcement, HOWEVER, the old school mentality still remains fairly strong. By that I mean that even though it’s much more accepted to talk through what we experience with a professional, BUT it’s still not something that anyone really broadcasts. For a lack of a better term there’s still some embarrassment around things like that.

Perhaps that’s due to a large population of law enforcement being men, or it’s the nature of the career where we have to be tough and just handle our crap. Whatever the reason, talking with a counselor is not the first reaction for most.

There’s a few situations that make it “easier” to talk to a counselor

  1. If we are forced to talk to someone after a rough incident. At that point it’s “okay” since we had to.
  2. If there are counseling resources available that are superrrr confidential.
  3. If we go on our own to outside counselors

The key to a successful counseling program at a department is making sure the availability of the counselor and the confidentiality is seamless. Make it EASY for the officer to reach out and discuss whatever is going on.

We have a program that is contracted out to specialized counselors who are experienced in this area. The way it works is the department essentially has them on a retainer. At no cost to us we can text a number and schedule a call with them and work through whatever it is we need to work through.

The biggest concern with all of us is that we would say something that they would be alarmed with and then we will lose our job. That’s always the fear. Something that we say sets off alarms and next thing we know we’re on admin leave. Also having that TRUST is huge

If you want a good read, an incredible book for learning some insight to this career on the emotional side is “Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement”.