Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement

Police officers are first on the scene of some of the most dangerous and demanding situations imaginable, providing immediate care and support. Although these heroic duties are essential to society, they can be very strenuous and emotionally draining to those in the profession. Police officers face a great deal of trauma on a day-to-day basis. On average, law enforcement officers handle 188 critical incidents during their careers. This constant exposure to devastation, life-threatening situations, and the physical strain of working long hours can lead officers feeling hopeless and anxious. In fact, suicide is so prevalent in the profession that the number of police officers who died by suicide is more than triple that of officers who were fatally injured in the line of duty. Unfortunately, those who may need help, rarely seek it out. Despite the prevalence of mental health issues amongst law enforcement, there is a stigma around getting help. Many officers view asking for help as a sign of weakness or that if they acknowledge they have a problem with mental health then something is “wrong” with them. Furthermore, many fear that talking about their struggles will result in stigma from other officers, career setbacks, and the shame of having their weapons removed. Interested in helping the officers in your organization? Start by exploring the resources below:

What can I do to address stigma in my organization?

Building resilience helps individuals adapt and overcome the effects of stress and trauma associated with police work. It not only helps us move past these events in a healthier manner, but also gives us positive traumatic growth following the event. Creating a self-care plan helps individuals to improve their immunity, increase positive thinking and make us less susceptible to stress, depression, anxiety and other emotional health issues.

How can I reduce the effects of trauma in my employees?

  • How to Build Resilience
    • A brief explanation of what resilience is, the importance building resilience, and ways you can build it to create a healthier and less stressful life.

  • Improving Officer Resilience

    • Explains the five pillars of officer health and wellness. Implementing these five pillars within your organization will lead to more resilient and healthier officers.

  • Self-care Toolkit
    • When faced with challenges, we can use either positive coping strategies or negative coping strategies. Use this step-by-step guide to create a self-care plan that will help you practice positive coping strategies.

Police officers are at a greater risk for developing negative mental and physical health consequences including depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal ideation and attempts. Studies have shown that when officers’ physical and mental health issues go unaddressed, job performance decreases, decision-making abilities are impaired, and agency costs increase. In other words, everyone should be invested in maintaining police officers’ wellness, because it has a direct impact on their ability to be effective.

How can I help my employees?

  • Suicide Prevention Awareness & Education
    • The Signs Within Suicide Prevention Education & Awareness Report
      • The goal of this document is to educate law enforcement leaders, raise awareness, and prevent officer suicides. With information, signs to look for, and resources to reach out to, this document ensures that law enforcement leaders can provide their officers with the proper support in order to prevent officer suicides.

  • Resiliency Building Programs
  • Vicarious Trauma Informed Organizations
    • Vicarious Trauma Toolkit for Organizations
      • Vicarious trauma toolkit (VTT) focuses on organizational responses to work-related exposure to trauma. While some resources in the toolkit may be useful to individuals, the VTT is intended to provide organizations with the tools they need to fulfill their responsibility to support staff and become more vicarious trauma-informed.

    • Vicarious Trauma & Law Enforcement
      • The vicarious trauma toolkit includes tools and resources tailored specifically for law enforcement to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for organizations to address the vicarious trauma needs of their staff.

  • Peer Support Program
    • Supporting Mental Health in First Responders: Overview of Peer Support Programs
      • Overview of peer support programs for your department includes benefits and outcomes of peer support, components within a peer support program, the role, recruitment, and training of a peer support worker, and the challenges associated with implementing a peer support program.

    • Guidelines for the Practice and Training of Peer Support
      • Two sets of guidelines intended for policy makers, decision makers, and program leaders to provide direction about the practice of peer support are provided. We encourage prospective and practicing peer support workers to consider the set of guidelines as a roadmap for personal development, and we encourage administrators to consult the set of guidelines as they develop or enhance peer support programs within their organizations.

Post-Event Responses, such as critical incident stress debriefing, can help you get better. These sessions provide a chance to talk about the trauma with others who were involved. Start by searching the resources below.

Post-Event Response

Continuous training and education, beginning in the academy and reinforced throughout the organization, will reduce the negative consequences a traumatic event will have on your employees.

What can I do to learn more?

  • Shield of Resilience Training Course
    • Shield of Resilience is a training course that helps law enforcement officers build resilience and learn to recognize signs and symptoms of stress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicidal thoughts and actions.
  • REBOOT Recovery Trauma Healing Course
    • REBOOT is a 12-week trauma healing course for those within the law enforcement, fire, EMS, emergency communications, hospital emergency departments and corrections communities. At groups across the country, first responders and their families are healing, divorce rates are dropping, substance abuse is decreasing, and suicide numbers are being reduced.

  • First Watch Resiliency Building Webinar
    • Resilient professionals are relaxed, engaged, flexible and happy. In this webinar you’ll learn specific leadership strategies to build a resilient team from leading experts in the field.

  • Resilient Wisconsin Hidden Trauma Webinar
    • This exclusive training webcast for first responders from the Wisconsin Department of Health explores adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress, risk factors for trauma and stressors, signs of struggle, stigma, and resources for self-care.

  • Resiliency Training Institute
    • Explore many resilience training courses to help grow your staff’s personal, professional and organizational resilience. Call 1-800-501-1245 to speak with a resilience training facilitator; they will conduct a needs assessment and suggest a resilience skills training program that’s right for your organization. Whether you’re considering a resilience training seminar, a Train-The-Trainer resilience program, or even a resilience keynote they can assist you in making the right selection.