Psychological Wellness Programs
The 2018 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) report on Officer Safety and Wellness stated that officer wellness is an essential need to protect their own physical and mental health and safety, so they can protect and secure the communities they serve. The same holds true for those working the front lines in other public safety and law enforcement roles such as dispatchers, correctional officers, and firefighters.
Psychological wellness programs work to reduce stigma and raise awareness of the benefits of proactive mental health wellness to manage the stress that public safety personnel face in the course of their work. One such example is a Wellness Check-In program. Wellness Check-In programs:
Provides staff with education about the possible effects that may arise due to exposure to intense cases or critical events.
Provides the opportunity for confidential support.
Offers the opportunity for staff to discuss difficulties that they may be experiencing in their professional and personal lives.
Opens dialogue about common reactions experienced in response to difficult cases or stressful events.
Includes discussion on the behavioral and psychological signs of stress overload, effective methods of stress tolerance, or discuss concerns such as the impact work stress may be having on an individual’s family or peers.
The goal of mental health wellness programs is to maintain wellness and resilience and promote positive coping strategies. Even if the employee is not encountering a mental health challenge at the time, through the program, they have the opportunity to spend time reviewing personal stress and work management approaches as part of an effective health maintenance program. This benefits the employee, his or her family, and enhances their ability to work effectively.
Additional Wellness services that are utilized by departments include:
Ongoing confidential support and psychoeducation if agreed upon between provider and agency. Many individuals choose to request additional wellness check-ins beyond an annual visit.
Family component. Some employees choose to bring a family member to the wellness check-in.
Education or training programming. Examples include peer-support or resiliency training and education.
Individual critical incident debriefings. While most wellness programming is considered proactive, also offered is a reactive support benefit of up to three individual debrief sessions following a critical incident.