The dangers of law enforcement extend far beyond the streets. In fact, police officers are far more likely to suffer multiple health complications than their general workforce counterparts. News 8 Anchor Scott McDonnel takes a closer look at how Connecticut is making changes to protect the mental health of police officers. (“Protecting the mental health of police is top priority,” News 8, May 16, 2017).
“In the state of Connecticut, specifically after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the Connecticut Police Chiefs’ Association really took a look at the wellness of our officers,” said Chief Gary MacNamara of the Fairfield Police Department. “We didn’t want to see any officers hurt themselves or deteriorate to where they could not function in our communities.”
Every day, police officers encounter tremendous physical and psychological stress ranging from argumentative traffic violators and aggressive suspects to scenes of death and tragedy. A decade of research tells us that these pressures put officers at risk for many illnesses, including high blood pressure, insomnia, heart problems, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.
This is just one reason why the state of Connecticut is taking a stand. Twenty-seven police officers across the state are now being trained in Mental Health First Aid.
“We never look inside and ask why our officers are in crisis. We never ask each other, ‘are we okay?’” said Lt. Christopher Tursi of the Fairfield Police Department.
With Mental Health First Aid training, these officers will be better prepared to handle their own emotions as well as the emotions of fellow officers. They will learn how to recognize and properly respond to someone who is experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis – not by judging, but by listening. Mental Health First Aid helps ensure the well-being of officers and, in turn, guarantees they can continue to serve their community appropriately.
Learn more about how police officers and other public safety personnel can partner with Mental Health First Aid to make a difference in someone’s life. Because anyone, anywhere can be the one to make a difference.