After the tenth suicide among its ranks this year, the New York Police Department has decided to offer its officers free and confidential mental health services.
Police Commissioner James O'Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that no-cost mental health counseling and prescription services would be available to officers through a program called Finest Care, which will be coordinated by New York-Presbyterian. Through the program, officers will be able to access help from psychologists and psychiatrists at several New York area hospitals.
The announcement comes a week after an NYPD sergeant committed suicide. The NYPD inspector general and city’s Department of Investigation recently issued a report entitled, An Investigation of NYPD’s Officer Wellness and Safety Services. It noted that “police officers, like others in the workforce, are susceptible to on-the-job and nonemployment related stress, trauma, and fatigue. This can set in motion a vicious cycle, as fatigue decreases an officer’s ability to handle stress, and stress reduces an officer’s ability to deal with fatigue.”
Some studies indicate that almost one in four police officers has thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives.
Many officers, though, are reluctant to seek help because of the organizational culture of police departments and out of fear that their careers will be affected.
O’Neill said that confidentiality would be maintained because information would be managed by New York-Presbyterian and not the NYPD.