Mental health problems 'overlooked in police force'

Published 05 Dec 2014

Police officers who are experiencing mental health problems are not receiving the help and support they need, a NSW parliamentary forum has been told.

On Tuesday (November 2), Greens MP David Shoebridge told delegates that official figures show between 30 and 50 officers have made a benefits claim for psychological injury every month since 2012.

Repeated exposure to distressing crime scenes can lead to a number of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This debilitating illness can have a significant impact on both work and family life.

Kate Carragher, the wife of an officer who suffers PTSD, told the Sydney Morning Herald that she and her husband approached NSW Police for help on several occasions.

"There is a huge culture of fear, stigma and silence surrounding PTSD. Support for police officers is dismal at its best and non-existent for many others," she said.

"In the end, as a result of the disorder, we lost our marriage, house, our careers and I was also diagnosed with PTSD."

The 31-year-old from Newcastle said much more could be done to prevent the illness and help the friends and family of sufferers better cope with the condition.

Making TPD claims

Mental health problems such as PTSD are considered total and permanent disabilities (TPD) under some superannuation policies.

Therefore, anyone suffering these conditions could be in line for benefits that can help provide vital financial support, easing stress and anxiety.

However, it's vital to have a seasoned superannuation disputes lawyers to guide you through the process and give you the best chance of success.

This is particularly true given the comments made by psychiatrist Hugh Morgan at the NSW parliamentary forum earlier this week.

Dr Morgan, a clinical senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, stated police officers are usually advised to be as active as possible to speed up recovery, but many are afraid to leave the house in case insurers are watching.

The Age quoted him as saying that the lengths some insurance providers go to in order to prevent paying out on a claim is "horrific" and "nasty".

"I'm telling [a patient] I'd like him to get out and do things, while the insurance company is monitoring those very activities to use against him and discredit his work injury claim," Dr Morgan stated.

If you would like to speak to an expert superannuation dispute lawyer, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners today.

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