Policing is a demanding, often stressful career. On a daily basis, officers can be exposed to the worst humankind has to offer. They are called upon to make life and death decisions in a split-second and margins for error are slim. Despite these known stressors, officer mental health is a an often overlooked component of officer safety and wellness. IACP is committed to raising awareness around the importance of officer mental wellness and providing corresponding resources to help.
Vicarious Trauma Toolkit
Exposure to the traumatic experiences of other people—known as vicarious trauma—is an inevitable occupational challenge for the field of law enforcement. Organizations can mitigate the potentially negative effects of trauma exposure by becoming vicarious trauma-informed. The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit includes tools and resources for public safety organizations to address the vicarious trauma needs of their staff. For more information, please contact either Aviva Kurash or Michael Rizzo.
Related Model Policies and Guidelines
Model Policies. The IACP Law Enforcement Policy Center has several model policies related to officer mental wellness, including policies on
(Note: access to most Model Policies is limited to IACP members only)
Guidelines. The IACP Psychological Services Section has a series of published guidelines related to officer mental health including
Suicide Prevention Resources
IACP has a host of resources related to suicide prevention. Visit the suicide prevention page for more information.
Preparing for the Unimaginable: How Chiefs Can Safeguard Officer Mental Health Before and After Mass Casualty Events.
This guide provides law enforcement executives with best practices for safeguarding first responder mental health in the aftermath of a mass casualty event. Chiefs, mental health professionals, and others with first-hand knowledge of these events provide readers with a concise compendium of what worked and what did not, including practical tips for helping officers to heal emotionally, managing public reaction, dealing with the media, building relationships with other first responder agencies, and much more.
Breaking the Silence: A National Symposium on Law Enforcement Officer Suicide and Mental Health
This report offers actionable strategies designed as a roadmap for police departments seeking to include officer mental wellness as a core element of officer safety and well-being and to mitigate the threat of officer death by suicide. These strategies are designed to prevent the destructive effects of emotional trauma, mental illness, and officer deaths by suicide on a police community; to successfully intervene when officers confront mental health crises, mental illness, or suicidal behavior; and, to provide effective event response protocols when an officer dies by suicide in an agency.