May 15th is Peace Officers Memorial Day—a day to reflect on police officers who have died or been disabled on the job.
Police officers have extremely stressful jobs. They deserve special mental health support.
Learn all about Peace Officers Memorial Day, common police mental health challenges, and ways to support police officers with their mental health.
A Brief History of Peace Officers Memorial Day
President John F. Kennedy signed a bill in 1961 to make May 15th Peace Officers Memorial Day in order to recognize police offers that “have worked devotedly and selflessly in behalf of the people of this Nation, regardless of the peril or hazard to themselves”.
Peace Officers Memorial Day marks the last day of National Police Week, which starts on May 9th of every year.
Bill Clinton directed that American flags should fly at half-staff on this day to remember fallen police officers.
Your community is likely holding a memorial service in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day. Attend one and reflect on all that police officers do for us. You can also display an American flag outside your home.
Police Officer Mental Health Challenges
More police officers die from suicide than those that die in the line of duty, and about 1 in 4 police officers has had thoughts of suicide at some time in their life—60% higher than the national average in Chicago, specifically.
Police officers face trauma, extreme stress, and tragedy frequently. Yet—mental health is often not discussed. This increases the mental health stigma and prevents police from getting the help they need.
Only 17% of police officers have gotten mental health care in the past year.
Rates of substance abuse, PSTD, anxiety and, depression are very high among police officers. The effects of mental health in the workplace are intense for police officers.
Many police officers are afraid to seek help, for fear of losing their jobs. While EAPs abide by HIPPA laws, which ensures confidentiality, police officers still worry that seeking help will cost them their livelihood.
Police officers may also be afraid to open Pandora’s box and revisit their past traumas.
How to Support Police Officer Mental Health
The following are some tips for police departments and police officers themselves to help improve employee mental health.
Talk about mental health
If you know a fellow police officer had a rough day, offer to sit down and chat with them. Something like, “That was really tough. Want to talk it out?” Then listen. So many people can benefit just from having a space where they can talk it out with someone they trust.
Talking about mental health will decrease the stigma and increase the changes police officers will seek help.
Provide access to mental health resources
Provide an EAP for police officers. Connect them to therapy and other mental health resources that will help them take care of themselves. Provide them hotlines like CopLine so they can talk about mental health confidentially and get connected to mental health resources in their area.
Educate your team on mental health
Have a therapist (preferably one that specializes in first responder mental health challenges) come in and talk to your police officers about managing mental health.
Learn about workplace wellness benefits that go beyond an EAP—like PTO, fitness classes, and even meditation—and learn about the areas of wellness. Teach your team how to balance their lives and take care of themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.
If you’re looking for a quick way to educate your team, download and share the Nivati Manager Training Handbook with them.
EAP for Police Officers
We’ve heard stories of police officers using EAPs that never answered their calls or set up therapist appointments for them. EAPs are meant to help—not make things more stressful. That’s why we created Nivati—the #un-eap.
With Nivati, there’s no waiting 8+ weeks to see a counselor. Our users get seen in 48 hours or less.
Police officer EAP utilization is usually very low due to scheduling challenges and confidentiality fears. With Nivati, those concerns go away!
Check out a demo to see what Nivati can do for your police department. We can get your whole team set up with Nivati in just a couple of days.