Implications for Law Enforcement Officers
Fact: If you deal with four people today, statistically, one of them will be suffering from a diagnostic mental illness.
When interacting with these individuals arm yourself with actual knowledge, not misguided assumptions about psychiatric disorders. In order to effectively communicate with mentally ill individuals, choose your words carefully. Use accurate and sensitive words when talking to anyone about the mentally ill. Your positive attitude can affect everyone with whom you have contact, including other officers and medical staff. Words like crazy, cuckoo, psycho, wacko and nutso are a few examples of words that keep the stigma of mental illness alive. Although these words are often used without intentional harm, they can be quite belittling and demeaning. They also perpetuate the stigma of mental illness. Stigmatization is the #1 reason people with a mental illness do not seek treatment.
If you believe you may have symptoms interfering with your mental health, seek appropriate treatment. Officers are susceptible to depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. Effective, confidential treatment is available. Usually the stigma of mental illness is far worse than the illness itself. Serve and protect yourself.