First responders are the people whom the community depend on to do the dirty work – the ones we know we can’t handle and are too difficult. Given the stressful nature of their job, who helps the helpers when they are the ones who need help? Worse, when they were subconsciously programmed to not seek help.
Dr. David Black joins Justice Clearinghouse to discuss methods to strengthen first responder resilience and wellness. David is the Founder, CEO, and Chief Psychologist of Cordico. He’s been serving law enforcement since 2002 and is a Board Member of the National Sheriffs’ Association Psychological Services Group, the Chair of Technology and Social Media, is an Advisory Board Member for the National Police Foundation’s Center for Mass Violence Response Studies, and serves on the IACP Police Psychological Services Ethics Committee.
Topics covered in this session are:
- The noble profession that is law enforcement and the importance of remembering this fact.
- The challenges law enforcement is facing with recruit and retention, the pandemic and the social unrest that resulted in attacks on police, calls for defunding, and changes and instability within.
- The profile of a newly recruited law enforcement officer looking at the characteristics they possess.
- The profession that the idealistic, resilient, and mentally and physically fit recruits are subjected to.
- Comparing the number of critical incidents an average person goes through in an entire lifetime to the amount first responders are exposed to throughout their careers.
- The stark reality that more law enforcement officers die due to suicide than line of duty deaths.
- Aggravating the high level of stress in the job with a stigma perpetuating a false belief that seeking help is weak.
- The need to flip this narrative and normalize that there are days when you’re not ok and getting all the help you need is the best way to return to wellness.
- A look into the different areas of one’s life and career that are influenced by wellness, demonstrating how wellness is a crucial element that can impact the entire profession.
- Understanding law enforcement work through a neuroscience perspective looking at how critical incidents impact the brain and subsequently affecting thought processes and responses.
- What reactive and proactive resources are, and which to better maximize of the two.
- Understanding the concepts of circle of concern and of circle influence and deciding which of these to focus our time and energy on.
- Various tools and resources that may be utilized to support first responder wellness.
- Customized mobile wellness apps with integrations for crisis alert, peer support, access to chaplains and therapists, and self-assessments.
- Publications that address first responder wellness that focuses on the effects of hypervigilance associated with law enforcement work and how COVID is exacerbating work-related stress.
- Content on providing support for first responders and leadership support aiming to transform law enforcement culture to combat the stigma.
- Guidelines for building a peer support team within an organization.
- Core tools that can be done anywhere and anytime that stress remembering your mission and purpose, avoiding negativity, and engaging in proactive control.
- The critical role of having meaningful relationships and a support system.
- How self-care practices like yoga, breathing, exercise, and resting can combat stress and even depression.
- The importance of discernment when it comes to coping strategies, preventing addictive and potentially destructive coping mechanisms.
Questions from the audience were about:
- References of points tackled in the course.
- The applicability of the concepts to other criminal justice professions.
- Potential funding sources to implement wellness tools and programs.
- Things that can be employed immediately to get on the path of wellness.
Resources and Handouts
- Recommendations for Law Enforcement on Coping with Fears of Ambush and Other Unprovoked Attacks
- Building Support: Why Peer Support Teams Are at the Heart of a Healthy Agency – Q&A with Dr. David Black
- Book: Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Dr. Kevin Gilmartin
- The Asher Model by Chief Neil Gang
- Building Support: Why Peer Support Teams are at the Heart of a Healthy Agency – An Interview with Dr. David Black
- CDC: What Law Enforcement Personnel Need to Know About Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- The Lancet: The Psychological Impact of Quarantine and How to Reduce it: Rapid Review of the Evidence
- First Responders, COVID-19 and Stress: Tips for Finding Peace
- Free 7 Video Course: Supporting Your First Responder Family’s Mental Wellness during the Coronavirus Pandemic
- The Case for Mindfulness and Meditation in Law Enforcement
- Suicide Prevention LifeLine
- A Guide for Law Enforcement Officers and their Families
- EXCELLENT Speaker. I hope this is offered again. I would like to increase the awareness of the Admin. Staff. Then, in turn, the entire department will benefit from this invaluable information and QR barcodes. Thank you! Thank you! — Roseann
- This topic is a career and life saver! It can never be presented too many times and is an integral part of human well being! Thank you!!! — Donald
- I absolutely loved this webinar. The presenters support for law enforcement was amazing. Perfect subject for the current situation. — Ebeth
- The info provided during Q&A regarding tapping your county/state risk manager to see if insurance can be used as a potential funding source for the application was very interesting and great information. This is such and important topic–thank you for sharing the research and resources! — Kristen
- All of this was valuable however the Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Influence is something I can do today, immediately. Thank you! — Lori
- I really enjoyed the portion explaining the anatomy of the brain and its components living in a fight or flight state. Also, identifying the crash aspect and how it affects your family and relationships. Then the presentation took you to solutions to combat the stressors. I enjoyed the short flash training (appropriate time to manage in a busy daily schedule without over committing to the day). — Stacey