U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Developing a Law Enforcement Stress Program for Officers and Their Families

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 1997
237 pages
This book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date presentation of a number of police stress programs that have made significant efforts to help departments, individual officers, civilian employees, and officers' families cope with the stresses of a law enforcement career.
The presentation is based on nearly 100 interviews with mental health practitioners, police administrators, union and association officials, and line officers and their family members. A chapter on planning the stress-management program notes that law enforcement stress experts recommend a systematic and holistic approach to program development, focusing on the prevention and treatment of stress at the individual and organizational levels. A discussion of program structure considers various options, including an in-house program, an independent external organization, or a combination of the two. Regardless of program structure, however, stress program services must be delivered in a location that is accessible and private. In considering the selection of staffing configurations, options include the use of nonsworn mental health professionals, sworn mental health professionals, interns, chaplains, volunteers, and peer supporters. Careful screening, training, and strong management support are essential for peer supporters to be beneficial. Other issues discussed are the establishment of a referral network, how to deal with confidentiality, program marketing, the prevention of stress and stress-related problems, the reduction of organizational stress, the response to stress- related problems after they occur, and services for family members (treatment and training). Other topics addressed are the monitoring and evaluation of the program, the management of program costs and funding, and tapping other resources. 5 figures and extensive appended supplementary information, forms, and sample plans

Date Published: March 1, 1997