According to an article in the Express & Star, figures released to them under the Freedom of Information Act have shown that almost 1,000 police staff members in the West Midlands alone have had to take time off work citing stress as the cause in the last three years – with over half of these being front line officers.
Post-traumatic stress is something that perhaps we may expect our police force to suffer, given the things they have to see and do in their day-to-day work life. But other reasons given include depression and anxiety. The figures are from April 2006 to March 2009 and included 959 police force staff from the West Midlands police force, ranging from constables to operations centre offices and telephone operators. West Midlands police explained some of these absences were for external reasons, such as bereavement, and they have a counselling section to help staff.
A retired police superintendent John Mellor, aged 80, told the paper that counselling and psychotherapy didn’t happen in his day. He said:
“I understand that modern police officers like those in my day suffer from stress and it seems everything these days seems to be done to assist them. Back then when officers got sent to incidents such as murders or bad road accidents, which could be causes of stress, they didn’t seem to notice it.”
As a nation, it seems we suffer from stress and related depression much more, perhaps because of the expectations of the society we live in and perhaps because of the publicity surrounding murders and bad road accidents we are more aware of the number. With therapies such as hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy, a greater awareness of our feelings and early intervention, we can use the tools therapists have nowadays to help combat our problems.