Stigma in Police Officers with PTSD Receiving Mental Health Services

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology and Special Education

Date of Award

Summer 2021


Stigma is a mark of disgrace that can worsen someone's mental health problems, and delay recovery or impede them from receiving help and treatment. Stigma is often caused by a lack of knowledge that leads to discrimination and /or unintentional avoidance of a particular person. There are many people who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and also experience stigma because others assume the individual is either violent or dangerous. In law enforcement, PTSD tends to manifest overtime from witnessing severe or tragic events on the job. Officers also deal with the stigma associated with accepting their diagnosis and taking that next step for treatment. The purpose of this study is to evaluate public stigma for law enforcement officers who experience PTSD while on the force. The participants that volunteered to participate in this study completed the following measure: TEQ, LOF, PTSD Knowledge Scale, and PTSD Symptoms Scale. Once the participants completed these measures, they were randomly assigned to a vignette that was either a police officer with PTSD or stress then completed AQ-27 and Beliefs about risk for violence, substance misuse, and mental disorder. Once participants finished this data we collected the data and ran linear regression analyses toiv assess predictions of public stigma within the domains of empathy, familiarity, PTSD knowledge, and PTSD symptoms. The results showed that Black and Latinx reported higher public stigma for police with PTSD than whites. This was also the case with Black and Latinx participants when looking at coercion, blame, help and avoidance. The results between gender did not show any significant effect for gender. Finally, empathy, familiarity with police officers, and PTSD knowledge was also looked at. Empathy results showed individuals has lower stigma while familiarity did not predict that. PTSD was also not a predictor to reduce stigma. This could have due to low PTSD knowledge within the sample as well as having known of a police officer with PTSD.


Sean Lauderdale

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences