Policing is a demanding, often stressful career. On a daily basis, officers can be exposed to the worst humankind has to offer. They are called upon to make life and death decisions in a split-second and margins for error are slim. Despite these known stressors, officer mental health is a an often overlooked component of officer safety and wellness. IACP is committed to raising awareness around the importance of officer mental wellness and providing corresponding resources to help.
Law Enforcement Agency and Officer Resilience Training Program
Police work is physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding. In order to protect the communities they serve, law enforcement officers must receive the tools and resources they need to protect their own health and safety. One tool law enforcement agencies can use to support overall officer health and wellness is resilience training. Resilience is the capacity to prepare for, recover from, and adapt to stress, and adversity. The IACP, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)’s VALOR Initiative, is customizing a program specifically designed to help officers and agencies by enhancing resilience skills. The program, based on the Penn Resilience Program, equips individuals with a set of skills that can be immediately applied to everyday life to strengthen one’s ability to overcome adversity and challenges, manage stress, maintain peak performance, and thrive in their personal and professional life.
The Law Enforcement Agency and Officer Resilience Training Program is one of the seven programs currently within BJA’s VALOR Initiative. For more information about the VALOR Initiative, please visit https://www.bja.gov/programs/valor.html.
Vicarious Trauma Toolkit
Exposure to the traumatic experiences of other people—known as vicarious trauma—is an inevitable occupational challenge for the field of law enforcement. Organizations can mitigate the potentially negative effects of trauma exposure by becoming vicarious trauma-informed. The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit includes tools and resources for public safety organizations to address the vicarious trauma needs of their staff. For more information, please contact either Aviva Kurash or Michael Rizzo.
Supporting Officer Safety Through Family Wellness
Supporting Officer Safety Through Family Wellness: Helping You Young Child Understand Your Job. A law enforcement officer’s job may be difficult to explain to young children. This infographic includes conversation starters, suggestions of how to explain your daily duties, and answers to other questions your young child may have.
Supporting Officer Safety Through Family Wellness: Financial Wellness. Financial planning is important for everyone, particularly for families of law enforcement officers, whose jobs are more unpredictable. Overcoming financial stressors allows officers to focus on their jobs, safety, and families and improve their overall wellness. This infographic breaks down some of the most important parts of financial planning including: budgeting, saving, debt management, and credit scores.
Related Model Policies and Guidelines
Model Policies. The IACP Law Enforcement Policy Center has several model policies related to officer mental wellness, including policies on
(Note: access to most Model Policies is limited to IACP members only)
Guidelines. The IACP Psychological Services Section has a series of published guidelines related to officer mental health including
Suicide Prevention Resources
IACP has a host of resources related to suicide prevention. Visit the suicide prevention page for more information.
Preparing for the Unimaginable: How Chiefs Can Safeguard Officer Mental Health Before and After Mass Casualty Events.
This guide provides law enforcement executives with best practices for safeguarding first responder mental health in the aftermath of a mass casualty event. Chiefs, mental health professionals, and others with first-hand knowledge of these events provide readers with a concise compendium of what worked and what did not, including practical tips for helping officers to heal emotionally, managing public reaction, dealing with the media, building relationships with other first responder agencies, and much more.
Breaking the Silence: A National Symposium on Law Enforcement Officer Suicide and Mental Health
This report offers actionable strategies designed as a roadmap for police departments seeking to include officer mental wellness as a core element of officer safety and well-being and to mitigate the threat of officer death by suicide. These strategies are designed to prevent the destructive effects of emotional trauma, mental illness, and officer deaths by suicide on a police community; to successfully intervene when officers confront mental health crises, mental illness, or suicidal behavior; and, to provide effective event response protocols when an officer dies by suicide in an agency.