The stigmatization of mental health remains prevalent in law enforcement. Many people who work in law enforcement are exposed to traumatic situations, but unfortunately don’t feel as if they have the support to seek treatment. At InTime, we believe it’s critical for every police officer and sheriff to feel supported when it comes down to their wellness.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 1 in 4 police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives. This shockingly high number demonstrates how important it is for every law enforcement agency to have wellness resources and support in place for their officers.
Poor mental health and wellness can manifest in many different ways. For some people, poor mental health can be the result of a lack of sleep or burnout. For others, poor mental health can be the result of experiencing traumatic and stressful situations. Often in the case of law enforcement, poor mental health, stress and burnout are the results of the overlap of challenging work hours in high-stress situations.
Here are five wellness warning signs for police officers and sheriffs that every law enforcement agency should be aware of:
Withdrawals from personal life
Though signs and symptoms are different for every person, one of the first wellness warnings is a person’s withdrawal from their personal life. Police officers and sheriffs who are struggling with stress and mental health may show signs of withdrawal from their family, friends and regular day-to-day activities during their time away from work.
It’s important to continue to make an effort with your loved one or colleague if they begin to show signs of social withdrawal. Continue to reach out, invite them to social gatherings and make an effort to continue with regular day-to-day activities.
Police officers and sheriffs work demanding hours, which puts them at risk of extreme fatigue. Over time, lack of sleep can have a serious impact on an officer’s mental health and wellness.
The connection between sleep and mental health is bi-directional. Long-term sleep deprivation can increase a person’s risk of mental health disorders. On the other hand, those with mental health disorders are even more likely to experience chronic sleep problems, and in turn, these sleep problems can manifest themselves into further psychiatric disorders.
People who work shift work are at risk of extreme fatigue and sleep deprivation. It’s important for police and sheriff’s departments to schedule their officers safely, and ensure their officers aren’t at risk of fatigue-related issues. Certain scheduling and wellness platforms, such as InTime Wellness, automatically create shift rotations that factor in hours worked and send alerts to schedulers if officers are at risk of fatigue.
Loss of focus on goals an purpose
Another wellness warning that colleagues and partners of an affected officer may notice is a loss of focus on goals and purpose. For those struggling with their mental health and wellness, finding a purpose in daily activities may feel increasingly difficult.
A loss of focus at work can manifest itself in different ways. For some police officers and sheriffs, it can manifest itself through the inability to make decisions, the inability to perform complicated tasks and increasingly making careless mistakes.
Wanting more time alone
Similar to withdrawals from personal life, those experiencing wellness issues may find it easier to retreat and spend more time alone. Mental health issues can affect everyone differently, and for those who are new to mental health conditions, it can be a scary and unsettling time. Some officers and sheriffs who are struggling with their mental health may find it easier, in the short term, to spend more time alone at work and away from their colleagues.
The bottom line
Every police officer and sheriff should remember that what they do for a living is honorable. Seeking support, whether it’s through your police and sheriff’s department or through your loved ones, is not a sign of weakness. In the same respect, every police agency and sheriff’s department should have wellness resources in place to support every employee in every rank.
Reach out to our team to learn more about InTime Wellness and how a data-driven wellness solution may be exactly what your police department needs to protect your staff and keep your officers healthy.