Do Chaplains Suffer From Stress?
Author: Lydia D’Ross, Brookhaven Hospital, Renewal Program Outreach Chaplain
Chaplains feel that it is a honor to serve their emergency personnel, that they feel that they are representing “God” within them, in the face of different types of daily challenges.
Chaplains understand that in the law enforcement community the level of stress is much higher than any other occupation.
I recently visited a Fire Chaplain and a Police Chaplain. Though these two roles serve in different capacities, you may assume the level of stress might be evidenced by law enforcement officers’ divorce rates.
According to research, this is not so. In fact, law enforcement officers suffer more on health issues due to the level of work, in comparison to the divorce rate claimed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Dr. John Violanti of University of Buffalo School of Public Health said that two primary factors are more likely associated to police officers health issues: Stress and Shifts Work.
My brother in law is a senior peace officer in Pennsylvania, and he tells me that he works the night shift because it is better for his health. Not all officers are privileged to pick their shifts, and this can weigh on health and family issues, depending on the tolerance that an officer has in how they handle stress.
Fire and Police chaplains have many stories to tell in how they respond to law enforcement officers or emergency personnel, as their primary function is to be a support to their law enforcement community and families.
Good leadership skills and strong relationship between emergency personnel is an essential key in keeping their stress level to a minimum. However, it is never easy for Fire or Police chaplains to be the ones who notify spouses of a fallen officer.
Fire and Police chaplains have a high rate of post-traumatic stress compared to other professions. They encounter daily traumatic events and are exposed to crime victims in durations sometimes longer than a law enforcement officer.
The impact of post-traumatic stress can be prevented by ensuring that we are surrounded by support, counseling and debriefing opportunities.
Brookhaven Hospital Renewal Christian Care program is here to serve you, to help you recognize symptoms of behaviors that may be need to be addressed by professional counseling.