The law enforcement profession is being hounded by issues left and right. In between the use of force and police misconduct incidents, the recruitment and retention challenges, and the decline of officer morale due to the stress, trauma, and mental health challenges – the profession is gasping for an out of this perfect storm of a crisis. This session proposes how officer health and wellness can influence all fronts of the law enforcement crisis positively.
This session’s resource speakers are Dr. Jill Palmer and B.J. Wagner. B.J. works with the Meadows Institute to expand the Institute’s efforts on first responders’ wellness and mental health. Meanwhile, Jill is the Chief of Behavioral Health for Endeavors spearheading the implementation of the Endeavors Veteran Wellness Center.
Specifics of the presentation are about:
- The concerning state of health and wellness among law enforcement officers and the need to urgently address this health crisis which impacts not only the officers but the communities they serve as well.
- The importance of sleep, particularly deep sleep, and how sleep deprivation can lead to conditions that negatively impact a law enforcement officer’s performance of duties and overall health.
- The adverse effects of sleep deprivation on complex decision-making and behavior as seen in a study on critical care nurses.
- The risk of minor traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and concussions and the higher likelihood for work-related injury in law enforcement.
- The insufficient proactive, immediate post-concussive care, or baseline concussion measurement at onboarding/hiring provided to officers.
- A rundown of the immediate and post-concussion and mBTI symptoms to look out for and how these can lead to issues when interacting with the public.
- How providing post-concussive care is a form of risk mitigation where the likelihood of inappropriate responses and engagement with the community is reduced.
- Programming considerations for developing wellness programs for law enforcement officers which emphasizes the importance of:
- Ensuring that such programs do not become a pathway to support the lack of officer accountability through policies, performance management, and other processes.
- Identifying and addressing barriers to accessing mental health care and wellness services.
- Recognizing that mental health is health and there are mental health needs that rise to the level of getting treatment.
- Understanding how the health care system and societal stigma likewise prevent officers from help seeking.
- Cultural competency where providers are trained and well-versed in the dynamics of being a first responder and law enforcement officer and can tailor support to meet unique needs.
- Factors to take into account in terms of finding a culturally competent treatment or treatment provider.
- The different interventions available through Endeavors to address different experiences, conditions, and needs.
- A glimpse into the available treatment interventions that can be leveraged to address job-related stress and trauma as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and meditation and mindfulness.
- The concept of quality of life – the different elements in our lives that determine it, and how appropriate mental health and wellness resources, services, and providers can improve it.
- The value of sufficient physical activity in improving wellness and decreasing depressive symptoms.
- Resources to support holistic wellness and mental health.
Questions from the webinar audience are about:
- Sources of the statistics and studies cited in the presentation.
- What occurs within the law enforcement profession such that individuals who are healthy when they started their career end up unhealthy.
- REM sleep and deep sleep.
- Integrating preventive proactive practices with medications to improve sleep.
- The frequency of shift changes.
- Encouraging leaders to affect an organizational culture change toward wellness.
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: The Effects of Sleep Deprivation Infographic
- Handout: Identifying and Managing Anxiety in Law Enforcement Officers
- Resource Mentioned: My Mental Health – Do I Need Help?
- Resource Mentioned: Tips for Talking with a Health Care Provider about Your Mental Health
- Resource Mentioned: Apps to Help You Sleep
- Article Referenced: Peace, Officer: More Cops Die from Suicide Each Year than in the Line of Duty.
- Book: The Burnout Epidemic, The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It by Jennifer Moss
- Book: Healing Our Path From Mental Illness To Mental Health by Thomas Insel
- “It was all very good. …The statistics at the beginning were very interesting.” — Buddy
- “Great information !!! — Glenda
- GREAT INFORMATION, LOVE THIS.” — Gene
- “I enjoyed the entire presentation. I thought the information was very interesting and well-studied. I will be taking some things back to my squad. Thank You! “– Michael
- “I am in the process of developing a similar intervention and I learned that Dr. Palmer and Ms. Wagner have used much of the same expertise and logic that I have used in my intervention. I appreciate their elevation of this topic to JCH and I know this will assist so many law enforcement professionals, their families, and the communities they serve.” — Tralonda
- “This was a much-needed topic and the Presenters had an overwhelming amount of knowledge and presented the information with care and concern. Would like to see future webinars on this topic. AWESOME!!!” — Vivian