Police culture & Mental Health

Although there are lots of positive steps being taken regarding mental health support for first-responders in recent years, I truly believe that the negative side of police culture is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Not only does mental health have a negative stigma, it is often perpetuated within police culture. This blog is not about quoting studies, to which there are many that support this statement. It is a point of view from someone who is part of that culture. Imagine working in an environment where people use the term “snap leave” to describe someone who is currently off due to mental health issues. An environment where people’s response to a mental health issue is “you knew what you signed up for,” does not create a safe space for sworn police and civilian police members to speak up about things they are going through. It reinforces the very negative stereotypes we associate to mental health. A culture which refers to people on medical accommodations as “weak” “fakers” “lazy” “the problem” does not encourage an inclusive environment of healing but instills fear in those who may be suffering from medical issues including mental health. The toughest challenge for policing will be to create change within police culture itself. Therefore it is incumbent upon everyone who is part of this culture to recognize the need for change, and to have the courage to address it.

Beard On!

Your Bearded Cop




4 thoughts on “Police culture & Mental Health

  1. I’m going to stop commenting soon so I don’t look like a stalker, but this post made me angry. “Snap leave?” Seriously??? I knew what I signed up for in my job too, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard. Why are we so damn hard on each other???

    It needs to be recognized and accepted that certain jobs, by their very nature, will take an inordinate toll on the workers, and mental health leave, support etc. will be needed by some or all in those jobs throughout their careers. The mental health support needs to be rolled right into the job. “Suck it up Buttercup” just doesn’t cut it. My profession has a suicide rate four times that of the general public. We’re starting to talk about it openly, but there is still a huge stigma. I can barely imagine the mental health stigma for a “tough” first-responder. I guess the answer is to keep talking, but it seems like keeping people mentally healthy would be easier than treating them once they are sick. All these tools you are learning now would have been hugely helpful years ago, right?

    Keep talking. Beard on yourself. As a fifty-year-old chick I’m fighting the beard with all I have. Ah, I crack myself up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please don’t stop commenting. The discussion is part of the solution and healing process. Yes, we need to take better care of each other and that begins by recognizing the impact our language may have. Being part of that culture, I myself, am guilty of thoughtlessly using some of those terms in the past. Change begins within ourselves and works it’s way outwards.


  2. I would say certain jobs and some events do as well. If one is a police officer, saying to others to toughen up isn’t going to work in this world. Maybe they need to do yoga (mediation) or to talk it out with other officers whether it be other constables, sergeants or another rank or maybe physical activity helps them out and that is the best way. For others, maybe they want to make a change and speak up after a while to let the public know about what good can be done or changes. Not all police officers are necessarily bad, others scare everyone. Some police organizations need to change about what is allowed, like the federal one in our country; a boy’s culture should not be excepted and women can be great officers and offer different support to the community than men can.


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