Counselling has been sought by Northland police officers more than 130 times in the past five years for stress and trauma.

Documents supplied to the Northern Advocate revealed the extent of work-related pressures for police employees.

Since 2011, 134 Northland police staff have requested psychological support, 32 in the past 12 months.

Northland police had 326 full-time constabulary staff last year.


Police Association northern region director Jug Price said work-related stress and trauma was expected because of the nature of police work.

"We go to a lot of horrific and weird things ... it's probably fair to say the general member of the public doesn't realise what a police officer can be put through," Mr Price said.

"Without a doubt it builds up inside a person, and it's dealt with in different ways by different people."

Police were often the first on the scene at road fatalities, homicides, domestic incidents, suspected suicides and armed incidents, and also received a fair amount of abuse on the job.

He said Northland's close-knit policing communities meant problems were shared with colleagues, but officers were always encouraged to seek formal help if necessary.

"Police nowadays have psychological services that are made available to members for virtually anything these days, and we encourage members to take up those options when they feel they're under stress. It's an acceptable part of life where people seek help from external agencies to help them cope with the world today."

Police wellness and safety manager Marty Fox said each officer responded to stress and trauma differently.

"For some, the psychological impact of their involvement in particular serious incidents may be great. In other cases, it is the cumulative exposure to a number of events which adversely affects the wellbeing of employees."

Mr Fox said psychologists helped "minimise post-incident reactions and risk of developing ongoing psychosocial harm", but said the policy was "not designed to replace good management, supervisory practices or personal coping skills".