OZARK, Ala. (WDHN) — The duties within law enforcement are not easy tasks. In the line of duty, officers come in contact with more dangerous and stressful situations the average person may never know.
According to Sheriff Wally Olson of the Dale County Sheriff’s Office, this stress combined with the anxieties of everyday life can weigh on one’s mental health.
“It takes a toll on you when you’re dealing with situations like loss of life,” Olson said. “As hard as you try to put it down it’s there. You got to find a way to decompress and put it out of your mind. It never goes away, it’s always there but you’ve got to find a way to deal with it.”
Olson said there are ways to help cope with the strain that his work has on mental health and it all comes back to wanting to make the community a better place.
“You find a way to focus on the positive things in life,” Olson said. “Understand what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. You want a better community, you want to see the positive, the good in people. You want to see things like that and not focus on those situations.”
Dale County Sheriff’s Office also has counselors and support groups for those who need additional support in coping with the stress.
Sherriff Olson said relying on colleagues and friends is a good way to help to stay grounded in times of uncertainty.
“Your colleagues have seen some of the same things you have and you share those ways of overcoming and getting through it,” Olson said. “Having that support structure in a group with various law enforcement officers makes a difference.”
Sheriff Olson wants to encourage any law enforcement struggling with mental health to take the time to ask for support.