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Mental health and wellbeing of border security personnel: scoping review

Publication date: 

31 Oct 2022


Occupational Medicine, Volume 72, Issue 9, December 2022, Pages 636–640


Brooks S and Greenberg N

Publication type: 



Background Whilst the wellbeing of law enforcement personnel has been widely researched, border security personnel as a discrete group appear to be far less discussed, despite their roles frequently exposing them to potentially traumatic and challenging events such as contact with criminals or witnessing personal tragedies due to trafficking or smuggling. Aims This scoping review aimed to explore existing literature to better understand the mental health of border security personnel and the factors affecting their wellbeing. Methods Four electronic databases and grey literature were systematically searched for studies relevant to the review’s aims. Following the extraction of relevant data from each study, thematic analysis was used to synthesize findings. Results Thirteen studies included relevant data and were included in the review, identifying stressors including poor management; fatigue; negative public attitudes; inadequate staffing levels, resources, and training; poor opportunities for promotion; low pay; work overload; dangerous working environments; and work-related moral dilemmas. Conclusions The review found that there has been little academic attention paid to border security personnel as a specific branch of law enforcement. Many of the stressors identified in this review are those also reported by law enforcement generally, although negative attitudes from the public and exposure to moral dilemmas appear to be more relevant for border security staff. Directly addressing work-related stress (e.g. by fostering a supportive organizational culture, addressing mental health stigma, and encouraging help-seeking) may be useful in enhancing the resilience of border security personnel.