In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara had a conversation about a quote from a police chief that they read and how that mindset does damage to first responders.
Words Can Sting
“Our focus is to get our officers back to work where they can put it behind them the best they can.” was a direct quote from a police chief after 3 officers were involved in a shooting and the suspect died. Of course, the focus is for officers to get back to work, but that shouldn’t be the focus, and that is part of the stigma.
Allowing first responders to have the space to heal and go through their emotions is a gift that any chief could give them. Helping the first responder go through the trauma and providing healthy tools is an essential part of ending the stigma. Not only does it help the first responder, but it helps the family behind the badge. They, too, can learn the valuable tools to support their first responder. It also helps the coworkers, and they will see it is ok not to be ok; it is ok to ask for help.
These are the stigmas we are talking about. Change doesn’t always have to happen from the top; you can be the change. A group of you can be the change. Words are a powerful tool, and using them to stand up for your mental health is ok.
What Can Change
The most danger phrase in the language is “we’ve always done it this way.” ~Grace Hopper, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, Computer Scientist. Truth, is nothing changes if we don’t change. Taking the steps to filling your duty bag, starts with I am not ok, and finding that you are not alone. Leadership is beginning to recognize that the old way isn’t working. It’s hard to find the training, the staff, and the budget to provide your department, station, or center with the tools to stay on this side of suicide. Good news, there are many more resources and training out there, you just have to look.