Operational Stress and Mental Health Among Law Enforcement: The Moderating Role of Organizational Stress and Supervisor Support



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Partially a result of occupational stress, law enforcement officers have been found to have higher than average rates of suicide than the general population. Occupational stress can be measured in two dimensions: operational (resulting from the nature of the job) and organizational (resulting from bureaucratic practices). The extant literature has found that supervisor support may mitigate negative health outcomes while both forms of occupational stress may aggravate them. The present study examined the impact of supervisor support and organizational stress on the association between operational stress and correlates of suicide (i.e., depression, hopelessness, and PTSD). One hundred and three participants were analyzed for this study. Seventy-six participants were male while 38 were female. The average age of participants was 40.31 (SD = 10.08) years old. We hypothesized that operational stress, organizational stress, and supervisor support would each be related to the three mental health outcomes and that supervisor support and organizational stress would interact with operational stress in such a way that individuals experiencing low levels of supervisor support and high levels of organizational stress would have the worst mental health outcomes. The present study found the relationship between operational stress and PTSD as well as hopelessness (but not depression) to be significantly impacted by both organizational stress and supervisor support with both interactions resulting in worsened outcomes. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.



Occupational stress, Supervisor support, Law enforcement officers, Depression, Posttraumatic stress, Hopelessness