Here’s a success in these dark days. Over a decade, our culture has made real headway cutting into the stigma around mental health treatment. It is still there. It still divides families. There are pockets where the stigma of seeking treatment remains stronger. African Americans are still less likely to seek help and there are far too few Black mental health practitioners. 

Another hot spot for denial is police departments where there is reluctance to reach out for help even though policing is clearly a job that rachets up stress. And in a time of so much rightful focus on evolving policing to foster greater connection with citizens and active de-escalation in moments of conflict, the mental wellness of officers is paramount.

So good for Oak Park Police Chief LaDon Reynolds and the village board for bringing a new mental health program to the department. Using a third party, every officer in the department — and Reynolds counts himself among those officers — will take part in an evaluation session. Outcomes might range from a thumbs up to a practitioner urging an officer to keep talking with a professional. In rare circumstances, the third party might raise a red flag to the department.

This is an inexpensive approach to introducing mental wellness as an ordinary part of self-care for our police officers. We look forward to hearing more from the department as it evaluates the service being offered.

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