When Mark Andrews signed up to the police force when he was just 18, he had no idea of what he was in for or the unimaginable situations which would go on to haunt him.
While he was quietly battling un-diagnosed PTSD and afraid of going to bed at night, four of his mates ended their lives – and it was a wake up call that prompted the stoic officer to reach out and get help.
When Mark Andrews signed up to the police force when he was just 18 (pictured), he had no idea of what he was in for or the unimaginable situations which would go on to haunt him
‘You feel so alone with your thoughts and feelings and think something is wrong with you. We just dealt with the emotions by drinking a carton of beer and going home – there was no debrief,’ Mr Andrews told the Daily Telegraph.
He recalled his first day on the job when he was taken to Westmead morgue in Sydney and watched on as an autopsy was carried out on a baby.
It was his first experience with a dead body and it was something he was not prepared for.
The father-of-three said at that time asking for help would have been seen as a ‘sign of weakness’ so he just continued on with his career going from one traumatic event to the next.
‘I had a lady die on me… her partner was behind me dead and she was telling me: “Please don’t let me die”,’ Mr Andrews said.
Although he had witnessed the stomach-turning aftermath of car accidents for about 10 years, one double fatal crash ‘broke’ him shortly after he became a new parent.
On average police officers are almost four times more likely to experience PTSD compared to the rest of the population, according to Beyond Blue (pictured, a suspect is bundled into a police vehicle in Sydney on drug charges)
A forensic police officer examines the scene of a drive-by shooting in Condell Park, Sydney, October, 19, 2020
Police interview witnesses after an alleged knife attack at a pizza shop in Sydney’s Merrylands
Horror as a body is found inside a burning car in Sydney’s west on October 31, 2020
He likened the tragic incident to a full glass of water that finally overflows with just one more drop.
When four of his mates killed themselves in 2013 it was the last straw.
‘I feel like I’ve been given a life sentence and I just have to carry and manage my PTSD until I die. There’s no support whatsoever. I’m a grown man scared of going to sleep… it’s just not normal,’ Mr Andrews said.
On average police officers are almost four times more likely to experience PTSD compared to the rest of the population, according to Beyond Blue.
Mr Andrews is now calling for police officers to be better supported in the wake of PTSD and wants to see less ‘red-tape’ when it comes to asking for help.
His pleas come just one month after a Sydney police officer took his own life while on duty.
Sergeant Matthew Theoklis was a father of three-year-old twins and was found dead in an office of a police station in Sydney
Sergeant Matthew Theoklis was a father of three-year-old twins and was found dead in an office of a police station on Goulburn Street in Surry Hills at 7.30am on November 30.
His fiancée Rebekah, is also a member of the NSW Police Force.
The father had worked as a policeman for the past 15 years and was stationed with the Eastern Beaches Police Area Command.
If you or anyone you know is in need of mental health support you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.