Resilience – On Wednesday, Tukwila officers attended a resiliency training session hosted by Chief Joseph Collins of Acadia Healthcare. Chief Collins is a nationally renowned expert in mental health care for law enforcement and can relate to officers going through mental health struggles due to his 35-year law enforcement career.
The training provided officers with resources, assistance and methods for coping with stress, anxiety, PTSD, addiction and other issues related to mental health that are common for first responders. While training is of the utmost importance, mental health training is often overlooked. Keeping oneself prepared for the day to day rigors of the job involves more than just eating healthy, working out to stay in shape and maintaining and work/personal life balance. Mental health is also an essential function that must be addressed in order to perform at one’s utmost best both in one’s personal and professional life.
It can be hard for anyone to come forward and admit that they are struggling with mental health issues. This is especially true for military and first responders due to the stigma associated with it and the belief that coming forward for help is essentially a career ending move. Due to this, many choose to hide their struggles in the shadows and wage a silent battle in their minds. In 2018, 172 officers committed suicide in the United States. In 2019, that number rose to a record 228.
It is not always easy to go home and unwind after a particularly busy or traumatic shift. The brain struggles sometimes for days, weeks or even years to process what it has taken in. This can make it very hard for some officers to cope as it feels like their minds are constantly in overdrive. While we often hear “You knew what you were getting into when you signed up,” no one can truly gauge or know how they will respond or react until they are faced with situations that challenge even the strongest of minds. We have seen officers quit on the spot just days into the job after their first traumatic call because they came forward and said they just mentally can’t handle it let alone 20+ years of it. For others, they don’t realize the toll it has taken until their loved ones notice a change in their personality, their smiles fading and their anxiety levels increasing. In reality, no one really knows how they will respond until they experience it firsthand in a real-life encounter outside of a controlled training environment.
During the course of a police officer’s career, they will see experience and see horrific things. They will be violently assaulted, witness traumatic injuries, death, despair and be there time and time again when people are going through the worst moments of their lives. The cumulative total of witnessing these horrific events, the adrenaline spikes and dumps throughout each shift and the impact that it can have on one’s family and personal life outside of work can impact not just the officer but everyone around them. We take the mental health of our officers seriously and have a robust mental health program that includes training and assistance such as Chief Joseph Collins resiliency training, Peer Support, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) mental health resources and more.
Chief Joseph Collins www.acadiahealthcare.com/about/acadia-staff/joseph-collins/
Code4 Northwest https://www.code4nw.org 425-243-5092
Crisis Line https://crisisclinic.org 866-4CRISIS (866-427-4747)
Suicide Prevention Lifeline www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org1-800-273-8255
Veterans Crisis Line https://www.veteranscrisisline.net 1-800-273-8255-Press 1Text – 838255
“Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed” Chester Bennington