Mental health has been an issue nationwide, and among those affected are police officers across the country.
According to a study done by NBC New York, 78 percent of police officers experience critical stress on the job, and 68 percent experience stress that triggers unresolved emotional issues.
The St. Joseph Police Department has worked to offer resources to any officers who might be dealing with that stress.
Commander Eric Protzman said within the last year there’s been a mental health professional in the police department, whom officers can use as often as they need.
“It’s completely confidential and we encourage it for anyone struggling,” Protzman said.
The department pays close attention to behavior changes in officers and wants others to come forward if they notice differences.
“Post-traumatic stress is a big thing in this day in age and we’ve had officers struggle with that,” Protzman said. “We want people to open up and not hold that information in.”
One of the common issues seen with mental health is officers not wanting to come forward and talk about what they’re experiencing.
“Most police officers are Type A personalities. We don’t want to talk openly about our problems,” Protzman said. “We’re supposed to be the tough people that protect everybody else and it makes it complicated.”
After being in law enforcement for 32 years, Protzman said he knows the job will always bring on stress, and wants officers to learn how to cope with those issues before they start.
Before bringing in new officers, the department does a mental health screening with all applicants to make sure they’re a reliable officer.
Protzman and the department know there will always be more they can do to help with this crisis and plans to continue to work to keep officers safe and healthy.
“It doesn’t matter where we are, what we’re doing in life, everyone’s going to have their own personal struggles,” Protzman said.