About this Research Topic
Police work increases the risk of psychological work-related injuries substantially: As a result of repeated exposure to trauma, police and first responders have more than twice the risk of developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when compared to the general population. We often hear of the impact of PTSD and depression on police officers’ health and overall functioning, including on their work performance. Both PTSD and depression are part of Operational Stress Injuries (OSI), which describe any persistent psychological difficulty that results from operational or service-related duties. Next to depression and PTSD, OSI includes anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, injury and pain, sleep disturbances and other conditions that may interfere with daily functioning. Importantly, factors frequently observed in police officers, such as burnout, moral injury, and compassion fatigue present additional mental health issues, further contribute to the maintenance and exacerbation of their psychological symptomatology, thereby prolonging recovery and contributing to the chronicity of disability, suffering and pain.
Increased awareness, conversations and education around mental health and mental illness have occurred in the past decade, which in turn, have translated into stigma reduction and enhanced seeking of help. This topic is aimed towards further building on the positive changes that have occurred in the past with the goal of moving forward in enhancing and protecting police’s psychological health.
Further increasing the awareness of mental health issues may advance the development of suicide prevention strategies by providing early interventions with improved access to expertise, aimed at improving therapy outcomes and prognosis as well as occupational functioning. Identifying and reducing risk factors while building protective factors is expected to further boost resiliency.
Therefore, we encourage contributions that aim to further our knowledge on the identification of individual factors, operational and occupational factors and stressors that increase risk for OSI; this knowledge could be used to improve proactive preventative strategies aimed at alleviating those stressors.
Because mental illnesses have a major impact on our economy, in part due to the fact that mental health problems are associated with reduced productivity at work, increased absenteeism, short term and long-term disability, the focus of this Research Topic would result in a positive return on investment; This would be achieved by reducing disability and medical utilization, and by improving therapy outcomes and prognoses. In addition, improving mental health outcomes in police officers should offer a return to a healthier functioning, safety, and suicide prevention as well as improved well-being and quality of life. While we are addressing mental health, contributions are welcome that consider all components of health including physical, social, psychological and emotional well-being in order to optimize and take a proactive approach to health.
Keywords: police work, psychological trauma, loss, resilience, emotional survival
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.