Date of Conferral





Criminal Justice


Grace Telesco


Police officers routinely get exposed to stressful or traumatic events throughout the tenure of their careers, which can lead to a build-up of emotions and internal stress. Consequently, research has shown that police officers have a higher suicide rate than the general public. Previous studies demonstrated that the majority of police officers have little knowledge about their provided employee assistance programs (EAP), and fewer yet have used the programs. The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine whether a significant relationship existed between and among factors such as self-stigma of seeking help, social stigma of receiving psychological help, attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help, years of service, gender, rank, and years of education related to police officers accessing EAPs. An open-systems theory was applied as the theoretical framework for the study. The study analyzed responses from 262 police officers, and the data collection method consisted of an online survey of respondents from within the United States. Regression analyses, an analysis of variance (ANOVA), and a t test were completed to answer the research questions. Results revealed a statistically significant relationship between police officers’ self-stigma, social stigma, attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help, and years of police service with their likelihood to seek assistance through an EAP. Implications for positive social change consist of promoting the use of EAPs as well as make more known the presence of stigma in policing surrounding seeking professional psychological help. Improved police officer wellness also promotes positive social change through the open systems model and the inclusion of community and policing organizations as vested stakeholders.

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