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Mental Health In the Security Industry A study by the University of Portsmouth demonstrated the potential effects on the mental health of security operatives as a result of stressful experiences on the frontlines of the industry. As we enter mental health awareness week (Ma
Mental Health In the Security Industry
June 25, 2019
A study by the University of Portsmouth demonstrated the potential effects on the mental health of security operatives as a result of stressful experiences on the frontlines of the industry. As we enter mental health awareness week (May) the study recognises that previous industry research on other frontline industries showed a sustainable amount of evidence of post-traumatic stress symptomology and suggests further exploration into the security sector may reveal similar symptoms.

The study shows that security operatives can experience multiple stressful and violent experiences in the course of their employment that could have a significant negative impact on these individuals both in terms of general mental health and levels of PTSD, specifically, those who meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Moreover, previous traumas and Individuals who have high levels of PTSD are likely to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs and therefore are especially vulnerable.

The survey questionnaire completed by 754 security personnel across the different licences in the Security Industry Authority (SIA) in the UK, covered the responsibilities of the roles of the operatives and also analysed their general mental and emotional wellbeing; substance misuse; childhood abuse suffered and sexual abuse suffered. The conclusion of the results are as follows:

– 46pc reported being attacked, beaten or mugged during the course of their careers;

– 22pc reported being subject to verbal abuse every day; 23% once a week;

– 11pc reported threats of violence every day; 15% once a week;

– 43pc have witnessed a situation where someone was seriously injured or killed; and

– 37pc have either been seriously injured or have been in a situation where they feared they may be injured or killed.

– 1/3 had similar symptoms in PTSD

– pattern of workplace anxiety

A security guard is a person employed by a public or private party to protect the employing party’s assets from a variety of hazards such as waste, damaged property, unsafe worker behaviour, criminal activity such as theft, etc. by enforcing preventative measures. Security guards are able to do this by monitoring alarm systems or patrol/video surveillance for signs of crime or other hazards, taking action to minimize damage and reporting any incidents to their clients and emergency services as appropriate.

Every security operative goes through a scrutiny of training and then examined and tested before being considered for the licence that they have applied for, which then adjudicators determine if the applicant meets the criteria, designed in a way to guide in recruiting individuals who are capable of the description mentioned in the previous paragraph. In retrospect the study did indeed merit security operatives as 'possessing the mental strength to be able to cope with such a demanding and potentially damaging work environment' but generally portrays the industry as a wild west where security operatives are becoming chiefs of their own town, with no help from the state against the lawless vigilantes, which is simply untrue.

With the findings produced to us from the University of Portsmouth who have generously highlighted the issues in the extreme end of the customer service industry, mainly the frontline industry, it is evident that the security sector should work together with the right institutes to facilitate remedial opportunities for those that are exposed to frequent stressful and violent workplace environments to limit the potential of post-traumatic stress symptomology.

A number of applicants in the industry aren't just part of the working class but many military and veterans who retain an active career undoubtedly have a greater experience and some of those afflictions transmigrate. It is therefore highly suggested for adjudicators to examine the role of psychological screenings within the security recruitment process, similar to the ones already employed by the police sector.

In an ever growing industry which is still undergoing  regulatary changes, mental health is certainly an issue which has been in need of a bigger voice within the industry and is surely one that can not be overlooked as a social matter, 

The study was done by the University of Portsmouth, Dr Risto Talas and Professor Mark Button, and Dr Mark Doyle, of Solent University and was funded by a faculty grant from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Portsmouth.
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