Twenty percent of American adults are living with a mental health disorder, equating to 1 in 5 adults. This statistic reflects the fact that mental health disorders are common and nothing to be ashamed of. Mental disorders like depression, anxiety and other types of mood disorders can arise for a number of reasons. They may have a strong genetic influence or arise due to situations of stress and trauma.
The high prevalence of mental health statistics among adults in the U.S. poses several important questions for applicants with a history of mental disorders: Can you join the police force if you have depression? Can you join the police with bipolar disorder?
While major societal progress has been made concerning mental health stigma, certain stereotypes and limitations still exist regarding working in law enforcement. Depending on the current status of your mental health disorder and where you’re based, becoming a police officer may or may not be possible.
Can You Join the Police Force If You Have Depression?
In general, whether you’re accepted into the police force depends on your performance on an exam and a medical assessment. However, there may be a few extra requirements for those with a history of depression, anxiety or another mental disorder.
Whether you can pursue a career in the police force may depend on the current clinical status of your mental disorder. The probability of being accepted may look different depending on your mental health situation. For instance, the possibility of joining the police with an anxiety disorder may differ from other mental disorders such as bipolar disorder or depression.
Some states may accept a report from a qualified psychologist as evidence of your capability; however, laws differ between states. Most mental health conditions can be maintained with psychotherapy and medical treatment, and while some states recognize this, others are slow to accept this as a standard.
Living with depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder can be difficult, but many people prove capable of managing and functioning normally. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a state that fosters this mindset, you should be able to be considered as a candidate just like anyone else.
What If I Develop a Condition While Working as a Police Officer?
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that police officers frequently come into contact with challenging, even life-threatening situations. This type of exposure can understandably lead to various forms of mental instability. Daily exposure to stressful situations puts police officers at a high risk of developing a mental health disorder.
Statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Health show that the majority of officers face mental health conditions at some point in their careers. Studies have shown that up to 19% of police officers in the workforce display signs of PTSD.
If you think you may be experiencing signs of PTSD, please consider seeking professional help immediately. FHE Health offers a range of inpatient and outpatient services designed to help those who are struggling to get back on track. We also have advice on talking about HR about how depression is affecting your job performance.
Educate Yourself on the Hiring Process
As someone with a mental health disorder, it’s important to remember your rights. It may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the standard hiring procedures in your state to ensure your application is being fairly considered.
If moving to another state to pursue a career in law enforcement is a viable option for you, consider educating yourself on the state-by-state laws. It’s possible your neighboring state has much more flexible policies than where you’re currently situated.
Rejection from the Police Academy: What’s Next?
While rejection may seem like the end of the world at first, it’s important to remember that it’s an inherent part of life. Everyone has to face rejection at some stage of their life.
Being rejected from the police academy may feel overwhelming, and it may lead you to believe that you’re unworthy or incapable. Try your best to be rational about this. Remember that everyone gets rejected from time to time. Your mental disorder may be a big part of your life, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t define who you are.
If serving your community is important to you but you don’t qualify for the police force, remember that there are many ways of serving your community. You may wish to consider similar pursuits such as becoming a correctional officer, a private investigator, a park ranger or a forensic analyst.
If you’re struggling to cope with the weight of a rejection you’ve recently experienced, reach out for support. Talking to a mental health professional can help you deal with these feelings and figure out the best way forward.
Need To Speak With an Expert?
Becoming a police officer is something many people dream of from childhood. Oftentimes when we’re young, we don’t consider how our mental health can impact our career aspirations. Mental disorders are becoming increasingly prominent in society, and more people are experiencing career-related difficulties as a result.
People often wonder, “Can you join the police with a mental illness?” As somebody with a history of mental illness, whether you can become a police officer will largely depend on your state’s laws and the current status of your mental health.
At FHE Health, we understand that simple things can be more difficult for people with mental disorders. We believe diagnosis and proper professional treatment can relieve much of the burden that comes with mental illness. Sometimes the answer is as simple as having someone to talk to or getting the medication you need.
If you’re concerned about your mental health and feel you can’t cope alone, reach out to FHE Health to find out more about our inpatient and outpatient programs.
Call us at (833) 596-3502 today. Our team of trained psychological professionals is on 24/7 standby, ready to take your call.