Working in a custody facility has always been demanding and dangerous work, with stressors and pressures coming from all sides (inmates, co-workers and supervisors). But working custody at LASD poses some unique challenges, because Twin Towers is our country’s largest mental health institution. Recent legally mandated reforms have expanded job duties while the Department continues to strive to increase staffing levels. Gassing incidents have increased and custody personnel have had to learn and utilize de-escalation techniques (when it’s safe to do so). I’m one of the clinical instructors for the DeVRT program and I have great faith that with practice and acceptance, DeVRT techniques can decrease your chances of injury and possibly even protect your physical and mental health.
The U.S. military and some law enforcement agencies have been utilizing resiliency training programs to increase their staff’s ability to recognize and self-regulate their responses to stressors. Resilient people feel the disappointment, anger and frustration of a negative outcome but they also see this setback as temporary; they stay positive.
They learn from their mistakes, are willing to learn and try different approaches, are flexible and emotionally hardy. Plus, they keep their expectations realistic and focus only on what they can control.
SIGNS YOU NEED TO INCREASE YOUR RESILIENCY IF YOU WORK IN CUSTODY:
• Your thinking has become more pessimistic and cynical
• You feel less hopeful about the work environment improving
• You don’t believe you can make even the smallest, positive difference
• You obsess about how you don’t feel supported by management
• You’re more irritable
• You have problems sleeping
• You’re gaining weight
• You rarely feel happy or joyful anymore
• You think a lot about work when off duty
• The quality of your relationships are starting to deteriorate
• You no longer enjoy doing things you used to find fun
• You hang out less with your non-law enforcement friends.
When stress begins to feel overwhelming, some individuals might start trying to “self-medicate” in a variety of ways, by drinking or using prescription medication (or both), working out obsessively, overeating to energize or to calm down, or emotionally shutting down. And, surprisingly, they may only feel energized while at work or when hanging out with co-workers.
Common but powerful ways to quickly boost your resiliency include:
• Getting six to eight hours of quality sleep every night
• Taking care of your relationships
• Engaging in fun activities (even if you feel too tired or uninterested)
• Not letting yourself think too much about things over which you have no control
• Seeing where you can make a positive difference, no matter how small the effect
If you would like more information on how to strengthen your resiliency, call Psychological Services Bureau (PSB), at (213) 738-3500 and ask to speak with one of our psychologists. Additional information may also be obtained by visiting our intranet site http://intranet/intranet/ESS/Index.htm.