Recognizing the Importance of Mental Health in Law Enforcement

So often, discussions around mental health in law enforcement are surrounded by stigma and misconceptions, with so many officers reluctant to talk about it or seek help due to fears of being perceived as weak or unfit for duty. Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a crucial platform to break down these barriers – though we must work towards this goal every day.

At MSAB, we value the insights of our employees who have transitioned from law enforcement careers, understanding that their experiences and perspectives are invaluable and could help so many more people.

Three of our colleagues, Wil Hernandez, Adam Firman, and Carl Lawrence, have shared their thoughts and strategies on managing mental health in such a demanding and emotionally taxing field.

Wil Hernandez on the unseen struggles of law enforcement officers


Will is a Technical Sales Engineer at MSAB, brings with him 33 years of dedicated service in law enforcement.

“Mental health is very important to the very survival of each and every Law Enforcement officer. During the average day of work one can be exposed to so many traumatic events. Traffic accidents involving fatalities, where they have to tell a parent of the death of their spouse and child. The investigation of child exploitation cases, where the sexual offender has an extensive library of Child Sexual Abuse material, and the investigator has to go through thousand(s) of pieces of evidence to potentially rescue a child. Homicide cases that put investigators face to face with the worst parts of humanity. It’s incredibly taxing work that can lead to significant emotional stress.”

And that’s not all. On top of everything,

“remember that law enforcement officers fear that any sign of mental health issues may impact their jobs and, as a result, affect their livelihood, which, in turn, will destroy their families.”

There is a paramount necessity for robust mental health support systems for the people going through these experiences, shares Wil.

“I was very lucky because my spouse is a Clinical Psychologist and she helped me to first recognize the symptoms of stress and to not be afraid to seek help nor feel the stigma of asking for help. Again, I was very fortunate that while I was part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, we established a mechanism that gave the LE investigators the ability to have access to a mental health professional with the confidence that it was confidential and that our command staff or any other person(s) can NOT get access to those sessions or the results.” This initiative ensured that officers could seek help without fear of career repercussions.

Effective Coping Strategies

Wil’s coping mechanisms emphasize self-awareness and family support. He advises:

Recognize changes in mood, sleep, or eating habits – this is not you type of signs.

I had a subordinate who developed a stress-induced tick. When noticing the change, I immediately advised them that they should see a psychologist. Several months later, the tick was gone. The investigator eventually transferred out of the high-stress unit, which was the best decision for them.”

On a personal level,

«I have my wonderful wife who is an awesome psychologist, and she would periodically tell me that I needed a break or a vacation. Then, I knew that she was metaphorically tapping me on the shoulder and telling me you’re not you and you need to act on it.»

Cooking and being surrounded by his loved ones were another great outlet for Wil. “I would come home and start on dinner. Being in the kitchen, the family would gather around to see what I was cooking, and I would give them samples and that would start conversations. I have five children, so I spend a lot of time with them. There was always a soccer or softball or football game to attend. I love to go fishing or taking the jet ski out. I also read and listen to music in a quiet room.”

All in all, Wil says

“Mental health is so very important, and you have to find ways to cope and deal with the events that the job brings your way.”

There’s strength in that.

Adam Firman on the lingering impact of mental health challenges

Adam is MSAB’s Tech Evangelist. He boasts a distinguished career in law enforcement, with over 15 years’ experience as a police officer with the Suffolk Constabulary.

“Unfortunately, I have witnessed firsthand how mental health affects colleagues in Law Enforcement. I have good friends who have left law enforcement due to suffering from this illness and are still scared by it many years on.

Mental Health does not get the recognition it warrants, and I feel it is still met with a stigma, making people feel that they can’t talk about it and trying to ignore it. That, unfortunately, only heightens the illness.

Law Enforcement, military, health care workers, and firefighters all have exposure to things that no person should ever have to witness. I was fortunate during my time in law enforcement that I had a good support network of colleagues whom I could talk with, and I also had to sit mandatory counseling every 6 months which at the time I didn’t realize how much it helped to deal with the horrific sights and sounds that were part of my daily life as a police officer.”

Strategies for managing stress

Talking, being open, and sharing your experiences is paramount in dealing with the stress of working in law enforcement.

I spoke about the mandatory counseling I received; at the time I did not realize how much this assisted in the field of work I was in. Before receiving counseling, I, of course, thought it was a case of laying down on a couch whilst being asked about my childhood, etc. But it was nothing like that. The counselor would speak about my life outside of law enforcement, planned vacations, and family – and I have no doubt they were skilled enough to be able to pick up on any indicators that may have meant I needed to receive further help.»

Adam also stressed the importance of disconnecting from digital devices and spending time outdoors. “My other passion is getting away from screens, taking my dog for a walk in the countryside, spending time with family and friends, and having no attachment to a digital world. It is a perfect formula for fully switching off.”

Adam Firman consistently brings attention to the importance of the topic:

“I often speak on social media about the importance of people looking after themselves.

We all take care of our most prized possessions but most of us are guilty of neglecting the MOST prized possession, ourselves.

I am pleased to see that the stigma attached to mental health is slowly starting to be overturned. I hope that it leads to more people being willing to start talking and being open, which in turn will help those suffering who previously would be doing so in silence.”

Carl Lawrence on the intricacies of mental health in law enforcement

Carl is a Sales Account Executive at MSAB. He joined our company in 2023, after an impressive 17 year career in the UK policing force, where he served as a Detective in the Regional Organized Crime Unit.

“Mental health in law enforcement has always been a complex topic. Still, across the emergency services sector, recognizing mental health is crucial, and the support on offer is increasing constantly.

During my career as a police officer, I faced challenges with mental health anxiety and PTSD. These issues gradually manifested through insomnia, reliving incidents from my career, questioning crucial decisions and the feeling of overwhelming dread, which led to suicidal ideation.

The nature of policing —high-stress situations, exposure to trauma, and constant public scrutiny—takes a toll on mental health.

A pivotal moment in my journey was letting it all out to Detective Inspector Graham Paul at ERSOU; he was fantastic and supportive, which marked the beginning of my healing process. The support network at ERSOU was vital for my well-being, highlighting the importance of mental health support in policing.”

Carl outlines several strategies that were instrumental in managing his mental health towards the end of his law enforcement career.

“Engaging with a therapist who specializes in trauma therapy provided a safe space to process experiences and develop coping strategies. Engaging with my GP, peer support from colleagues who understood the unique pressures of law enforcement was invaluable, and regular check-ins helped reduce isolation. Incorporating mindfulness and getting out into nature helped to manage anxiety. Physical fitness was a crucial outlet for stress relief, and making time for hobbies, family, and self-care provided decompression. I wish that I had taken these strategies into account years before I did.

«I admire emergency service workers and the sacrifices they make to keep us safe. However, they must also remember how vital it is to care for themselves.

Talking to someone is the most challenging step and takes immense courage. It is an absolute sign of strength, not weakness.


Moving Forward


The experiences shared by Wil, Adam, and Carl underscore the critical importance of mental health support in law enforcement. Their stories reveal the profound impact of trauma and stress, emphasizing the need for robust, stigma-free mental health systems. Together, we can support our law enforcement community in leading healthy, fulfilling lives while they continue to protect and serve.