CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but police officers and first responders see the brunt of that stress. Not only do they deal with tense situations year-round, they often respond to more service calls between Thanksgiving and Christmas - adding onto the stress that already comes with the job.
CMPD is committed to protecting the mental health of their officers and that’s why a full-time psychologist was added to the CMPD team a few years ago.
“They’re seeing these folks at their worst time, they’re seeing the most awful parts of our society quite a bit. How do they see that, and put it aside?" asked CMPD operational psychologist, Dr. David Englert.
We all know that officers put their lives at risk everyday to keep our communities safe, but as Englert explains, it’s not just physical risk, it can be mental as well. He focuses on programming for officers to help prevent any issues, and teaches them ways to avoid or fix relationship problems, sleep issues and financial trouble. He says those factors can lead to bigger problems, including depression.
“People who are in serious debt, have more psych problems, have more physical problems. Just being out of debt or in control of your debt, we find helps a lot of people," said Englert.
Finance problems, for anybody, can make the holidays more stressful. But for police officers, they deal with more stress in the work place overall.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, law enforcement officers report higher rates of depression, PTSD, burnout and anxiety.
“There is that mindset that all the officers and CMPD employees have to be this super tough folks, and it’s nice for them to come and talk to somebody," he said.
And because officers experience tragedy often, flipping a switch back to their normal lives isn’t easy.
“It’s a mindset. ‘We’re doing the best we can’ mindset instead of taking it upon themselves." Englert said when talking about the violent year.
Dr. Englert doesn’t just help sworn officers, he’s there to help crime scene analysts and dispatchers who witness and listen to traumatic situations as well.
Of course all first responders deal with mental health directly related to their line of work. The Charlotte Fire Department has mental health response teams go directly to scenes and follow up with firefighters after incidents.