Studies of policing have shown that there is a high rate of stress factors associated in this occupation. Stress can be a physical, mental, or emotional strain caused by an external source that disrupts the human body and can contribute to health issues. Several of these factors are related to or caused by poor training, substandard equipment, inadequate pay, lack of opportunity, role conflict, exposure to brutality, fears about job competence and safety, lack of job satisfaction, pressure of being on duty 24 hours a day, and fatigue among other factors.
Police have to deal with being called out at any time to unknown situations, domestic issues, car chases, robberies, crashes, some with grave outcomes and then notification of death to families, approach strangers on traffic stops, shootings, and arrests. Subsequently, many officers have difficulty managing relationships due to their job. In addition, police officers have high suicide rates, high divorce rates, and many are problem drinkers.
Continual stress, day after day, does not allow for recovery periods, and therefore, no time to heal. They can become insensitive and reluctant or unable to seek help. To help avoid or cope with stress, officers and supervisors should learn to recognize symptoms of stress. Many support groups and training programs have been implemented for both the officers and their families.
Some of these programs and support groups are Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance (POPPA) which addresses police stress and suicide, Corrections and Law Enforcement Family Support, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), programs which help officers that returned from military deployment, mental health counseling, and peer support officers (PSOs) for officers that experience trauma, alcohol abuse, depression, stress, and other problems.
Many departments offer health and fitness programs that help maintain the officers physically and emotionally. Improvements in the way that the police organizations are ran are continually being addressed to better deal with the problems of stress.