Concern for first responders and the trauma involved in their work fuels much conversation around their mental and emotional health. In our work at Revitalist, through both Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy and individual therapy, we work to address these concerns for the individual. We also work to advocate for the well being outside of the clinic. One group of first responders for which we advocate includes police officers. No doubt the recent controversies in our nation have added to their emotional distress. We want to provide every opportunity to help them through that distress.

So how can we assist police officers and support their mental and emotional health? How might support and assistance in mental health positively influence the current controversies in America surrounding the police force?

Research studies done by the CDC and other public health organizations have discovered four primary barriers in access to mental health services for police officers:

  • The inability of an officer to identify when they were experiencing mental illness.
  • Their concerns in regard to confidentiality.
  • Their belief that psychologists are unable to relate to their occupation
  • Their concern if they seek mental health services, they may be deemed unfit for duty.

These barriers impact how we care for and provide care for police officers. Their mental and emotional trauma leads to instability, which leads to conflict on the field that might be avoidable. In worst case scenarios it might lead to their death and the death of others.

Another concern for police officers is the increase in the rate of suicide of the last years. One study showed that twice as many police officers died by suicide as opposed to dying from the dangers on the job in 2018. Corinne David-Ferdon, PhD, of the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and colleagues wrote, “The overall suicide rate is increasing, with a 27% increase from 2000. Suicide data severely underestimates the extent of the problem, with many more persons experiencing suicidal thoughts and making suicide plans and nonfatal suicide attempts.” The pressures police officers endure is significant.

Could providing Ketamine help reduce trauma for those who participate? Could it produce more stable decisions on the job under extreme duress? Could it reduce the suicidal thought and ideation? Our experience suggests the answer to these questions is a resounding “yes!” Yet we still must address the stigma and barriers to providing this miraculous treatment to police officers.

We must overcome the stigma of mental and emotional health in order to provide police officers the care they deserve. At Revitalist, we have been advocates for police officers and are working to develop more inroads to provide help. A nonprofit organization, Community Change, has partnered with Revitalist to address the financial barriers for first responders in Knoxville. In fact, there is a golf tournament to raise money this Saturday.

However, there is much work to be done to address the other barriers that prevent police officers from getting help and the stigma that keeps them from asking for help. Something as simple as reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors who serve and sharing what you’ve learned can help to begin to erase it. Will you help us erase the stigma?


Photo by fran hogan on Unsplash

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