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Staying Mentally Healthy During COVID-19: Tips for Police Officers

Police officers are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, faced with enforcing the law while potentially confronting the coronavirus. Although in some places crime rates are dropping because of physical distancing, police officers continue to work long and tiring hours with the risk of insufficient personal protective gear.

Despite this, there are more than 790,000 police officers protecting our communities and neighborhoods across the country every single day.

It’s important that when in difficult and stressful situations, police officers take the time to care for and protect their mental health and well-being. There are simple tactics from the MHFA curriculum that can make a big difference while facing COVID-19.

Take a few minutes during your commute, before bed or even between calls to take care of your mental health with self-care.

  1. Do your best to leave work at work. When you finish your shift, give yourself time to spend time with loved ones or do an activity that you enjoy – such as running or meditation – to help focus on things other than the stress of the day.
  2. Debrief with someone you trust. It’s critical to process this uncertain time and any feelings of anxiety in a healthy way. Talk to a family member, coworker, faith leader or another trusted individual about how you’re feeling.
  3. Recognize the valuable role you and your fellow officers play on the frontlines of COVID-19. Remind yourself that despite challenges, you are making a difference and taking care of those most in need.
  4. Practice self-compassion.There is no road map. You are doing the best you can in a difficult situation. Take your situation day-by-day or even hour-by-hour. When you can, take a few minutes during the day to make your health and wellness a priority with deep breathing and relaxation exercises.
  5. Validate any emotions you might be feeling.There is no right or wrong way to process the COVID-19 experience. You may feel a range of emotions including frustrated, angry, anxious, restless, agitated or sad.
  6. Find ways to see the positive.It can be easy to get overwhelmed hearing about the growing numbers of confirmed cases, resource shortages and lost lives. But hopeful stories are out there. Look for news about communities coming together to support local businesses, feed hungry children and families, and donate money and critical supplies. Recognize what you and your fellow officers see and do every day to make a difference and help people in your community. Share these stories with fellow officers at roll call or with loved ones at home.

Implementing these small things in your daily life can make a difference to your overall mental health and well-being during this pandemic. If these are too hard to do, that’s OK too. Seek out support from family or friends and find other simple self-care tactics that help you.

If you are struggling with overwhelming feelings of anxiety or depression, talk to a therapist online or reach out to your primary care physician for additional support and resources. You can also use resources available through your police department, such as a confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or your department chaplain, for additional support.

Additional resources for police officers include:

  1. Crisis Text Line: Crisis Text Line counselors are available 24/7 to offer free, confidential services to all emergency responders. Text BADGE to 741741.
  2. Safe Call Now: Safe Call Now is a confidential, 24/7 crisis referral service that can connect public safety employees with other officers, public safety professionals, or mental health professionals. Call 206-459-3020.
  3. CopLine: CopLine is a confidential, 24/7 resource for active or retired police officers and their families to connect with trained, retired law officers for additional support. Call 800-COP-LINE.
  4. Cop2Cop: Cop2Cop is a confidential, 24/7 helpline for law enforcement officers and their families. Call 866-COP-2COP.

Thank you for choosing to #BeTheDifference for so many people across the country! Please be the difference for yourself too.