After the Webinar: You Matter – Self Care for PIOs. Q&A with Katie Nelson

Webinar presenter Katie Nelson answered a number of your questions after her presentation, You Matter: Self Care for PIOs.  Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: Talking about the people that use social media. What percentage of younger people did you say use social media? 

Katie Nelson: So, it’s 82% as US adults over the age of 18 use social media. What is interesting about that, though, is when you look at younger audience members, especially teenagers, they’re utilizing social media in a way that most adults are not. So, while we are comfortable with using platforms like Facebook and Twitter, most young adults, and I’m talking like 13 to 18, are getting their news and their perceptions of the world from Instagram, and Instagram is not normally a news platform but in the post-George Floyd era. Most teenagers are because that was a platform that they were comfortable using to begin with. But now because they’ve been it, for lack of a better word, indoctrinated into this social culture, they’re now getting a majority of what they think the world is built on and built by through one platform. And that’s Instagram. And that is such a vacuum. I don’t know if any of you have watched the Social Dilemma. I highly recommend you watch it because you will begin to understand, in the most acute sense how tailored these platforms are to somebody by creating a vacuum to their tastes and that is what so that is what is so scary.



Audience Question: As a frontline supervisor. What do you suggest I should do for my personnel from a wellness perspective? It hardly feels like enough to just encourage them to reach out to EAP?

Katie Nelson: I would say, if you have a peer support group that is active at your agency, begin to utilize that heavily. We also, at the Mountain View Police Department, began using an app called Cordico which tailored mental health and self-care needs to our officers. It’s individualized to our department’s needs. And so, if you have the opportunity to look at something like that, as well, I would highly encourage it. That being said, a peer support group, people may or may not be honest with their co-workers, because they see them as peers as friends, what have you. So, if an EAP is the other option, or if there is a way to encourage people to seek outside resources as well, maybe not through an EAP, but still creating that extra level of opportunity. I would also say, what exploratory options do you have there? Could that be through the Mental Health Network? The National Mental Health Network could that be through? Is there a nonprofit partnership in your community? We have one in Mountain View. If there is, if there are other available county resources, that you could send out department-wide, so it’s nice, an individual or a group of individuals aren’t feeling targeted, that is another option as well.



Audience Question: At the beginning of September, our agency became the target of a social media attack that included a doxing campaign for members of our department, including our Chief. We receive tens of thousands of negative comments all based on false information. What strategies can you suggest to combat this when it happens? 

Katie Nelson: First, I am so, sorry that that happened to you, and that is unacceptable. When it comes to situations like that, there is a phrase that I have used when it comes to crisis cons called, Get Ugly Early, so I would say that you, the best strategy to handle something like that from an external perspective, is to create a message with as much detail as possible about what has happened, what is going on, and then ensuring that you spend time responding to people with prepared statements, or basically talking points so that you’re not reinventing the wheel every time to address the comments and concerns. Internally, for those who have been impacted, I would pull everybody into a group to ensure that whatever it’s basically triaging the way that you would for victim advocacy services. Making sure that they had every available resource to them to ensure that they are feeling safe and taken care of. So, for the internal audience, take care of them that way, for the external audience, Having messaging, robust messaging, and being very firm in your responses would be critical, because your internal audiences will see that, and they will know that the steps are being taken to address it online, in particular.



Audience Question: When we’re already operating at max capacity, how do we avoid that feeling of falling behind any moment that we take a break or work out or do something other than heads down ever?

Katie Nelson: That’s an excellent question. I think, if you are operating at full capacity and you feel like you can’t step away, or you feel like there aren’t avenues to do that, that’s when you know that that is a moment where you just drop everything for a minute and just step away. And, I mean, we call it going to the koi pond. That is, when you see somebody who has just hit their limit. And nobody is good at, in the long term hiding their stress. Inevitably, somebody is going to pick up on it. So, find a trusted person in your agency in your department, where you know, you’ve hit your limit, and you can go to them, and they are going to help physically remove you for even a couple of minutes to get you back to breathing normally. And it even if it’s just breathing, closing your eyes, and doing you, you know, doing breathing exercises for a couple of minutes, something like that. Well, believe it or not, actually helps. The point, however, though, is to always ensure that you feel like you can, even in the toughest of moments every, but I am guilty of this as well. Everybody says I can’t right now. And the answer is, quite frankly, maybe you can’t in that second, but in the next 10, 5, 10 minutes, you’re going to have to. Because, again, if you are not giving your best self, you’re only giving what’s left. Inevitably, what’s left is going to become your best, and that’s not who you are.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of You Matter: Self Care for PIOs.  



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