Mental health experts say post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real concern in first responders.
"We pay them very little. They work ridiculous hours. And then we're surprised they would come down with PTSD or acute stress symptoms. We should just expect that they would come down with it. Not be surprised when they do," says Dr. Robbie Adler-Tapia, a Tempe-based psychologist who specializes in treating emergency personnel with PTSD.
Discussions of PTSD usually surround military personnel returning from the front lines of war-torn countries. And while the attitudes of some officers are slowly starting to change, many believe police managers and the upper brass are reluctant to acknowledge PTSD as an on-duty injury and address the growing problem in the rank and file, reports KPHO.com.
"Departments need to know that with quick treatment, with treatment options, with therapy, their employees who are having trouble can get back to work very easily," said Nathan Schlitz, a retired Mesa (Ariz.) PD officer.
Getting officers to talk about how their experiences on the street affect them is a challenge, in part because of the attitude that officers get paid to protect and serve and should suck it up and push through anything. There is also the stigma that if officers ask for help they are weak.
"They're exposed to critical incidents every day. And the wear and tear of it just takes its toll on them. And we don't provide services to keep them in shape. You know, psychologically healthy," Adler-Tapia said.