Mental toughness and perceived stress in police and fire officers [2018]

Mental toughness describes a set of attributes relating to how individuals deal with challenges, stressors, and pressure. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationships between mental toughness and perceived stress in police and fire officers.

The participants were 247 police officers and 130 fire fighters. Participants completed questionnaire measures of mental toughness and perceived stress, and provided information about their age, rank, and length of service within the force.

Mental toughness was found to be significantly related to perceived stress, with control of emotion, control of life, and confidence in abilities being particularly important. There was no consistent relationship of age, rank, or length of service with mental toughness and perceived stress. However, police officers reported lower levels of mental toughness and higher levels of perceived stress than fire officers.

Practical implications
The results suggest that assessing police and fire officers on a measure of mental toughness could provide a means of identifying individuals more likely to suffer from stress and stress-related physical and psychological illness. In addition, interventions that may enhance mental toughness could have beneficial effects within this population.

This is the first study to examine mental toughness and perceived stress within this population, and the findings have important implications for the management of stress.

Fiona Ward, Helen St Clair-Thompson, Alex Postlethwaite

Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 41 Issue: 6, 2018