Written by: Jessica Dalby, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
As we approach September 26th, 2023, National Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness Day, it is time to discuss police mental health and law enforcement mental health treatment related to police officers. This day should remind us all that it's long past due to our disregard for the severe impact and toll police officers endure daily. Police officers are humans, like any average citizen, but they are held and perceived to be unbreakable mentally. A police officer seeking mental health services is stigmatized before receiving mental health treatment. The question remains: why?
Society spends more time judging police actions than taking a different approach to objectivity and ending the generalization of all police officers. Throughout a career, they choose to serve and protect, but it also comes with the unexpected belief that it was frowned upon for law enforcement mental health treatment. Yet, they would continue to execute their job, serve and protect, engage in gunfire, or even lie in the arms of death because this is part of what they signed up for.
The precursor of one: How many others are there?
Kevin Donaldson, who retired from the police department in New Jersey, went through a similar situation. He was part of a shooting while serving as a police officer. He was there to serve and protect based on a domestic event. Thus, this shooting was a precursor to what would follow him. Mental health is those two words that you would not hear. A police officer seeking mental health treatment was unheard of. Police officers not only carry a badge, but they carry an invisible weight on their shoulders, cultivating this tough exterior and maintaining silence internally. Hopefully, with the spotlight on National Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness Day and the fact that officers are opening up about mental health and law enforcement mental health treatment, the stigma will be lifted.
It is the way of life in law enforcement to believe you do not need anyone to help you. The firmness and proficiency were all based on the customs and norms they worked with daily. They are now standing at a fork in the road, and the immediate tendency is to go down the road of self-destruction. Police officers witnessed the most inhumane scenes, such as child abuse, domestic violence, and homicides. When responding to an incident, you never know what may happen.
Thus, they are now facing a horrifying fight with an invisible being. Alcohol abuse, lack of sleep, depression, post-traumatic stress, anxiety—the list can continue. The concern is when and how. When will officers know it is time to seek mental health treatment, and how can we support this without stigmatizing it? Making a stand to remove the stigma from Law Enforcement seeking mental health enhances the officer's livelihood and the community. It is an unfair and biased perception to expect police officers to deal with these things independently. Let's not dismiss the fact that they are humans and are witnesses to or have become a part of the horrific events in society today.
National law enforcement suicide awareness day
As they go down this self-destructive path, the problem must be identified immediately and supported by the same people they work with and see daily. Only having a day of remembrance every year based on police officers who have died due to suicide is unacceptable. They took the oath to serve and protect, and as a society, we must remove our biases and be there to serve and protect them. As we approach National Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness Day, let's step back and look at what we are facing. Police officers who do not seek mental health treatment are five times more likely to endure the sadness of post-traumatic stress and depression than everyday civilians.
With the day-to-day trauma they face while not seeking mental health care, we are consumed by more police officers dying at their own hands through suicide. On September 26th, 2023, on National Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness Day, it is being brought to the forefront to remove that stigma that plagues a police officer from seeking mental health treatment. It is about stepping out of the darkness and into the light by spotlighting the various acts now being put in place and equipping those officers suffering in silence. A vital example of an individual stepping out of the darkness and into the light is leading mental health advocate Kevin Donaldson. He is co-authoring a book with Detective Chris Anderson called Man You Are Crazy because changing the face of mental health and mental health treatment will also assist in destigmatizing it. Join this revolution and help law enforcement officers know it's okay to seek mental health treatment because we do not want them to be another statistic on National Law Enforcement Suicide Awareness Day.
Read more from Jessica!
Jessica Dalby, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Jessica Dalby is the Founder of Press With Jess, an omnipresent global public relations & consulting agency. Jessica Dalby’s proficiency in research, scaling, and relationship building is a superpower that defies time and space. Jessica’s public relations work within the entertainment industry, her advocacy for mental health awareness, and her uplifting the voices and presence of those in the entertainment industry, entrepreneurs, creatives, and small businesses of all niche markets are just a few areas Jessica is taking a multicultural approach to media relations.