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Psychiatric Disability in Law Enforcement Officers

Law enforcement officers all across the world are exposed to violence, confrontation, and traumatic incidents. They regularly witness death and suffering and are at risk of personal injury. Psychiatric sequelae include an increased risk for trauma‐related symptoms, depression, alcohol‐use disorders, and stress‐related medical conditions. Law enforcement officers have been applying for early disability retirement pensions at an increased rate for stress‐related psychiatric and medical conditions. As a result, law enforcement agencies are prematurely losing valuable resources, officers with training and experience. Departments have become proactive in trying to address mental health issues to prevent psychiatric disability by implementing employee wellness plans and stress reduction interventions. Programs have been developed to mitigate the effects of stress on law enforcement personnel. Many law enforcement agencies have developed strategies to encourage early confidential referral for psychiatric treatment. They utilize peer support groups and employee assistance programs and develop alliances with mental health professionals. When these approaches fail, a fitness for duty process can be used to identify impairment in work functioning due to psychiatric factors with the prospect of later returning the officer to full duty. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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