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The extent of law enforcement agencies’ responsibility to address their officers’ mental health needs is unclear, despite the availability of resources and suggested guidelines. This research applied the theory of planned behavior to police officers’ willingness to seek mental health assistance from their agencies, examining the responses of 104 law enforcement officers in Utah and Idaho from four agencies. The results of this quantitative study provide evidence that law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to the mental health of their officers. Officers in general recognized the value of mental health services for others; however, they were not likely to seek mental health resources as individuals. Officers who responded to incidents where someone they knew well had died is the only traumatic event identified in this research when officers were likely to see assistance for their mental health from their agencies. Further, tenure, gender, and rank influence beliefs about seeking mental health assistance from an agency. Officers with longer tenure were more likely to experience changes in mental health and attitudes toward receiving mental health. Additionally, higher ranking officers are more likely to view the use of mental health resources positively, but they are not more likely to use those resources themselves. The results of this research could provide a positive social change for law enforcement officers. Law enforcement agencies should incorporate mental health training early in officers’ careers to improve the acceptance of seeking assistance. Agencies should also encourage the presence of councilors around officers to improve the relationship and trust of these professionals.
Ballard, Michael, "The Obligation of Law Enforcement Agencies to the Mental Health of Their Officers" (2021). Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies. 10204.