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Recommendations About the Impacts of the Police Culture on Police Mental Health


Police culture is a set of attitudes, norms, and practices that are shared among members of the police force, and it is often seen as an unspoken code of conduct that guides the behavior and decision-making of officers. It is a powerful influence on the way police officers behave and interact with the public and can have a significant impact on public trust in law enforcement (Burns & Buchanan, 2020). However, police beliefs and attitudes have contributed to a direct effect on the mental health and citizens. For instance, cops are often exposed to traumatic situations, leading to long-term mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression (Hasselt et al., 2020). Additionally, cop culture can contribute to a feeling of mistrust between officers and citizens, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and lack of empathy and understanding by officers toward citizens. This essay seeks to profoundly address the issue of police culture in Canada, provide recommendations on its impacts on police mental health and address the potential alternative to these issues.

Recommendations About The Impacts Of The Police Culture On Police Mental Health.

Police culture in Canada has been a topic of much debate and discussion in recent years. The history of law enforcement in the country has primarily shaped it. Canadian policing has traditionally been characterized by a hierarchical structure and a centralized command model. This has led to a culture of authority and control in which limited accountability mechanisms have been reinforced (Santa Clara University, 2021). The lack of transparency and oversight from external stakeholders, such as civilian oversight bodies and the media, has further exacerbated this culture. As a result, police officers can operate with relative autonomy, often with little or no accountability.

However, the culture of policing in Canada can significantly impact police mental health. This includes the attitudes and behaviors shared among members of the force and the organizational structure in which they operate. The cops are subject to a unique set of stressors that can have a negative effect on their mental health (Viau, 2022). The most common sources of stress include long and irregular working hours, the risk of violent encounters, and the psychological toll of daily encounters with traumatic events. For example, the hierarchical structure of police organizations can create an environment of power and control, where officers are expected to follow orders without question. This can lead to a feeling of isolation and a lack of autonomy and support. Additionally, the culture of policing can lead to a sense of invincibility, where officers believe that they are above the law and can do whatever they want. This can lead to a disregard for their safety and a lack of respect for the law and its principles. Finally, the culture of policing can lead to a focus on results rather than process, where officers are expected to prioritize performance over relationships and collaboration. This can lead to a lack of trust between officers and their peers and a lack of respect for the law and its principles.


To address the impacts of police culture on police mental health in Canada, several recommendations have been made. These include initiatives to improve the working conditions, establish independent bodies of police forces, increase awareness of mental health issues, and develop and enforce policies to reduce the use of excessive force.

(a) Improving the Working Conditions

The job of a police officer comes with a lot of stress and the potential for traumatic experiences such as feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression, and burnout that tend to take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being. Mental health issues can arise from various factors, including long hours, demanding work conditions, and a lack of support from their peers. Improving the working conditions for police officers is a critical factor in reducing their mental health issues. By providing police officers with the necessary resources and support, we can help them cope with the stress and trauma of their job.

Providing police officers with adequate rest, breaks, and vacation time can help reduce the stress they experience in their daily work (McCabe, & O’Connell, 2017). This can be accomplished by providing officers with flexible work schedules, giving them regular days off, and offering them additional vacation time when possible. Additionally, ensuring that officers have access to mental health services, such as counseling and stress management, can help them manage the difficult experiences they face on the job.

Creating a supportive environment for police officers is also vital in reducing their mental health issues. This can be accomplished by providing them with a sense of community, offering peer support and mentorship programs, and encouraging open communication between officers and supervisors (McCabe & O’Connell, 2017). Additionally, providing officers with opportunities to participate in job-related activities, such as training and professional development, can help them feel more connected to the organization and their peers.

(b) Increasing Awareness

Increasing awareness about mental health among police officers is essential in reducing the mental health issues that can arise from their line of work. Through comprehensive education and training, law enforcement officers can be taught how to recognize the signs of mental health issues in themselves and others and handle mental health challenges in the workplace.

First, education should focus on increasing awareness of the mental health challenges police officers face (Huey et al., 2017). This should include discussing how the job can be a significant source of stress and recognizing the signs of stress and burnout. It is also essential to educate officers on the importance of self-care and how to incorporate it into their lives. Regular check-ins with mental health professionals and peer support groups should also be encouraged to ensure police officers are supported with their mental health. These check-ins can help identify issues early and ensure police officers get help. It is also vital to ensure that police officer have the necessary resources available to them when needed, such as access to mental health services, counseling, and support groups.

Second, officers should be trained to recognize the signs of mental health issues in themselves and their colleagues. This should include a discussion on the stigma surrounding mental health and how to identify the symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health issues. Officers should also be taught how to reach out for help and support if they or a colleague are experiencing a mental health issue. Training should also focus on the various stressors that police officers may face and how to manage them (Lorey & Fegert, 2021) effectively. This should include teaching officers how to cope with on-the-job stress, such as long hours, high-pressure situations, and the emotional trauma of dealing with victims of crime. Additionally, officers should be taught how to recognize their limitations and when to seek help from a superior or mental health professional.

(c) Encouraging for Self-Care

Encouraging self-care can be a powerful way to reduce the mental health burden of police officers and support their well-being. Self-care is setting aside time for self-care activities such as meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation. By implementing self-care practices, police officers can help to reduce stress and gain greater control over their mental health (Canada, 2021). Self-care can also help increase resilience and coping skills, which can be beneficial in challenging situations. Also, police organizations can promote self-care among police officers by providing access to mental health resources, such as counseling and therapy. Organizations can also encourage police officers to engage in physical activity regularly, such as yoga and meditation.

Encouraging self-care among police officers may also involve providing learning resources, such as videos or articles, which can help them understand self-care’s importance and how to implement it effectively. Additionally, providing access to mental health services, such as counseling and support groups, can be beneficial in helping police officers to address their mental health needs.

(d) Developing and enforcing policies to reduce the use of excessive force

The use of excessive force by police officers is a serious issue that can have a significant and long-lasting impact on officers’ mental health and the public. Extreme pressure can cause physical and psychological trauma and can lead to a deterioration of trust between police officers and the communities they serve. For this reason, it is crucial to develop and enforce policies that reduce the use of excessive force (Burns & Buchanan, 2020).

One of the most effective ways to reduce excessive force is to develop policies requiring officers to de-escalate a situation before using force. Officers must proactively seek to reduce tension during a confrontation and focus on using non-forceful tactics to resolve the problem (Burns & Buchanan, 2020). This can include using verbal commands, establishing physical barriers, and offering alternatives to using force. Additionally, officers should be trained to use the least force necessary to resolve a situation and recognize when a problem escalates and de-escalation techniques are needed.

Another critical policy to reduce excessive force is to require officers to document each use of force. This should include details such as the type of force used, the reason why the force was used, and any injuries that resulted. This documentation can help to ensure that officers are held accountable for their actions and that the use of force is used only when necessary.

Also, officers should be provided with ongoing training on the proper use of force and the appropriate response to various situations. This training should include role-playing scenarios and simulations to help officers practice using de-escalation techniques.

(e) Establishing Independent Bodies Of Police Forces

To reduce the mental health risks for police officers, establishing independent oversight/bodies of police forces is an important step.

For instance, the independent bodies of police forces can provide an objective, unbiased perspective on police operations and offer much-needed transparency and accountability. This can help to reduce incidents of misconduct and abuse, as well as provide a means for police officers to report any violations that they may witness. By providing a safe space for officers to voice their concerns, police departments can better understand the issues facing their officers and work to put solutions in place to improve the overall mental health of the force (Pearce, 2022).

In addition, independent bodies can also help to improve the recruitment and training of police officers. By providing an independent review of the department’s hiring practices, as well as its training and development programs, police forces can ensure that they are recruiting and training the right individuals who are suited to the job and have the right skills and mindset to serve their community (Pearce, 2022). Furthermore, independent bodies can also provide a platform for police officers to share their experiences and discuss any issues or concerns they may have, further improving their mental health.

Moreover, independent bodies of police forces can help to build trust between the police and the public. By providing an impartial, transparent review of police operations, the public can be assured that the police are being held accountable for their actions and that their perspectives are being taken into account. This trust, in turn, can help to improve the overall mental health of police officers as they feel supported and valued by the citizens they serve.

(f) Improve Accountability and Transparency

Increased accountability and transparency can help reduce the mental health issues that officers face, as they will clearly understand their duties and better manage their stress levels.

One way to increase accountability and transparency is to ensure that all police officers clearly understand their roles and responsibilities. This can be done by providing a job description and clear expectations of what the officers are expected to do. This will ensure that all officers know precisely what is expected of them and that they are held to specific standards (Santa Clara University, 2021). Additionally, this will help officers stay focused on their duties and reduce the likelihood of mental health issues from feeling overwhelmed or unsure of their role.

Another way to increase accountability and transparency is to ensure that all police officers are held to the same standards when conducting their duties. This means that any misconduct or abuse of power should be treated with the same severity, regardless of the rank or position of the officer in question (Santa Clara University, 2021). Police officers should also be held accountable for their actions by their peers and supervisors. This can be done through regular reviews and assessments to ensure that officers perform their duties according to the law.

Lastly, using technology can help increase transparency and accountability while reducing mental health issues. For example, using body-worn cameras can help ensure that officers are professionally conducting their duties and that any misconduct is recorded and reported (Santa Clara University, 2021). Additionally, electronic records can help ensure that all police officers are held to the same standards when it comes to reporting and documenting their activities.


Police culture can significantly negatively impact police mental health in Canada. The culture of policing can lead to the normalization of stress, an emphasis on stoicism and hyper-masculinity, a lack of support for mental health issues, and a code of silence that discourages officers from seeking help. To effectively address the impacts of police culture on police mental health, it is essential to address the underlying issues that contribute to this culture. This can include providing officers with greater access to mental health resources and support, creating an environment where officers feel comfortable discussing mental health issues, and providing training on recognizing and managing mental health issues.

Additionally, law enforcement organizations should ensure that supervisors and peers are adequately trained in addressing mental health issues. Appropriate mechanisms are in place to support and assist officers struggling with mental health issues.


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Hasselt, V., Margres, K., Geller, S., & Rodriguez, S. (2020). Behavioral Health Training for Police Officers: A Prevention Program | FBI: Law Enforcement Bulletin. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from FBI: Law Enforcement Bulletin website:

Burns, C., & Buchanan, M. (2020). Factors that Influence the Decision to Seek Help in a Police Population. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(18), 6891.‌

Pearce, B. (2022). Increasing Support for Evidence-Based Policing: A Complexity Increasing Support for Evidence-Based Policing: A Complexity Theory Perspective on Organizational Change Theory Perspective on Organizational Change. Retrieved from‌

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