Webinar presenter Dr. David Black answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Strengthening First Responder Resilience and Wellness during Social Unrest and Stressful Times. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: So, David, you mentioned the research study earlier, that talked about exercise being a good treatment or help for mental health issues. What was the study again?
Dr. David Black: Yeah, so there’s actually a number of studies on that. I was talking about, one out of Duke University there, but there’s actually a body of research on that now. And the key there is. Well, first of all, any exercise is good for your mental health and there’s research on that. But really, if it’s depression, there’s two key elements to it. One is just call it, behavioral activation. Just getting up and move it around, doing things, being goal directed, right? That’s very good to help treat depression. But the second thing is, is getting cardiovascular exercise, it appears to be particularly important. And I think sustaining that for about 30 minutes is what you want to target to get those anti-depressant benefits. And doing it, of course, on a routine basis.
Audience Question: A lot about law enforcement today. But do this same ideas and concepts and theories also apply to corrections officers, probation officers, animal control officer? Does it say that apply to them also?
Dr. David Black: Oh, a hundred percent. It absolutely does. And by way of comparison, so for example, we do these apps for correction agencies, probation agencies, fire, 911. I mean, these are all high stress jobs and they’re all unique in their own way. I made corrections is unique. You’re going into this controlled environment and you’re under this constant level of stress and happen to be vigilant in there so that’s a very different situation, but so similar. And you see so many of the same patterns with elevated risk of mental health, physical health and increased mortality, hyper vigilance and being surrounded by the negativity, that’s characteristic in corrections setting. You see us with 911. I mean, they’re just constantly dealing with high stress scenarios decision making over the phone, and then not being there in the moment to be able to directly know what’s going on. That’s an extremely high stress and, often very unappreciated job. Probation ones I’m really passionate about as well. On animal control can be much, much more stressful than anyone assumes. Yeah, all these jobs, they share in common, these are high stress, high stakes jobs and they force you to deal with very, very negative things again and again and again, often with very limited thanks or gratitude. Not that anyone’s looking for that. But it does make it more difficult for your average person when they’re doing something very dangerous and high stakes and put themselves on the line, and there’s not a lot of thanks or appreciation, and it often seems like the opposite for it. So yes, this applies to all those different jobs as well.
Host: Fantastic. I think that got your answer that you’re looking for, but she was specifically asking about corrections as well, so thank you so much.
Audience Question: A number of agencies simply can’t afford a lot of expenses right now. Their budgets are getting killed, they’re barely keeping up with what they’ve got to take care of. How can they afford the app, like the one that you just described? Is it free? Is there a cost associated? How do you access? What do you recommend that they do? Especially for those agencies that are just really struggling.
Dr. David Black: Yeah, this is a real big concern. Budgets are being cut. Expenses are tight, so please go to www.policegrantshelp.com. There’s a lot of free money out there Cordico is a featured resource and has a special partnership with Police Grants. We can also, I think, to help with grants for corrections as well. So, and you could do that through Police Grants Help, as well. So, there’s just a lot of money and resources out there to help fund things, so that’s one. Secondly, there are a lot of very, very large number of departments that do fund this through their own budget, but there are many, many other options. We get, a lot of times, private donors pay for the apps, for agencies, which, I mean, how common sense that, like, here I am if I run the local car dealership, right? Or if I’ve got a business there, and I can actually take care of my heroes out there on the front lines by funding their app, which is actually probably the most low-cost way that you can actually come in and benefit through wellness. When you look at like per person cost, it’s extremely, extremely low compared to other options. And then we see cities step up. Cities that otherwise wouldn’t have the budget, but there’s a realization that so much is being asked to these people, and so little is being provided in return, and this is a very, very small gesture to invest in this and provide this resource for them. So, we’ll see city councils, cities and counties step up. And then the last thing I’ll mention is if you’re familiar with the risk pools, were getting a lot of these funded now through insurance groups to pool the risks. So, if your city or county has a risk manager and you reach out to them, yeah, they can often figure out how to fund it. So, it’s coming through an insurance risk pool and not funded by the agency itself. Cool thing about that, though often, pull it across like a county or even a state, always had its entire state picked up by that and you could be helping many, many thousands of first responders that way.
Audience Question: David, you talked about a whole slew of ideas and resources, and all that kind of good stuff. If we just had to pick one or two, that any of us could do to start managing stress, mental health. What are some simplest things that anybody could start doing easily today?
Dr. David Black: Great question, Chris, Thank you. And I would say, the number one thing is, understand circle of concern versus circle of influence. Circle of concern is everything you’re concerned about, everything you worry about, right? We’re all worried about COVID and we’re all worried about all the people we know who are getting sick and dying, right? We’re all worried about the state of the world and, the attitudes towards law enforcement right now, right? There are a million things that trouble everyone and then within that, there’s a circle of influence. What can you directly positively influence and impact through your own actions and decisions each day? As much as possible, put all your time, effort, energy, into circle of influence. Because what is letting you do is you train yourself to do that over time, as you’re letting go of as much as possible, is all these things that you can’t control. That’s a very healthy thing to do. It’s very healthy to emotionally divest from things that you cannot control or influence and put your time effort and energy, which is very limited into the things that you can positively impact. And when you increase, that sense of control that is associated with increased psychological resilience, that feels very, very good to enhance your sense of control. And when you focus, obviously, on the things that you can control, you enhance your sense of control. And the other thing you do is you make more positive changes in your life, because you’re focused on things that you can directly positively —- Only, so many hours, minutes, seconds, in every day. Don’t waste a single one of them. Focus them on the things that you can positively control. So that’s one. And then, I think the second thing is just set goals for yourself. Set meaningful, personal goals for yourself, to become the best version of yourself over time. And if that just means I’m eating a little better today, or I’m going to, you know, devote a little more attention to my sleep today or I’m really going to try to treat other people better today. You know, I’m going to learn tactical breathing today. Whatever it is, just every single day, challenging yourself to do something that’s under your control, that helps you be a better version of yourself.
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