As we stand on the threshold of 2024, reflecting upon the challenges and losses our Department endured in 2023, it is important to acknowledge the profound impact these experiences have had on our dedicated sworn and civilian personnel. The unprecedented demands and pressures placed upon your shoulders have been monumental. In the midst of these trials, our Department experienced multiple tragic losses, further deepening the emotional impact experienced.
As we reflect on the hardships and sacrifices made, it becomes increasingly evident that fostering resilience and embracing post-traumatic growth is not merely a goal but a necessity. In this article, I aim to offer key strategies to help you not only weather the storms but to emerge stronger, more resilient and poised for growth in the face of adversity.
1. Open to support. Reach out to colleagues, peer supporters, friends, PSB psychologists or family members to share your experiences. Building a support system can provide a crucial outlet for expressing emotions and receiving understanding. For our sworn members, you can also reach out to Copline at (800) 267-5463, which is a confidential and free resource available to law enforcement so they have an outlet they can turn to in times of need.
2. Discover your coping mechanisms. Identify activities that bring you solace and relaxation. Whether it’s physical exercise, meditation or engaging in a hobby, incorporating these practices into your routine can be a powerful means of managing stress.
3. Prioritize your well-being. Recognize the importance of carving out moments for personal well-being amid extended work hours to prevent burnout and maintain a sustainable lifestyle.
4. Invest in personal development. Consider professional and personal growth opportunities that align with your interests, maybe attending workshops and seminars or pursuing further education to broaden your skills and perspective.
5. Reflect and seek meaning. Take time to reflect on your experiences and consider seeking meaning in challenging situations. Journaling or engaging in conversations with trusted individuals can aid in processing emotions.
6. Celebrate achievements, big and small. Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how modest. Recognizing personal and professional milestones contributes to a sense of accomplishment and boosts morale.
7. Cultivate a growth mindset. Develop a mindset that views challenges as opportunities for personal growth. Actively seek out ways to learn and adapt, embracing the potential for positive change in the aftermath of difficult experiences.
As an individual within our law enforcement family, these suggestions are tailored to help you navigate the unique challenges and losses of the past year. By prioritizing your well-being, seeking support and fostering a growth mindset, you can not only endure but thrive in the face of adversity. There are multiple resources available to you should you want support in your endeavor. You can engage with a Peer Support member through the Department’s wellness app (see QR code below) or by calling (213) 738-3500. Please note that we have both sworn and civilian Peer Support members who are available to listen and offer support. You can schedule confidential counseling services provided by the Department through Psychological Services Bureau and also by calling (213) 738-3500. For our sworn members, you also have the option of contacting a resource like Copline (1-800-COPLINE) — a hotline available to active and retired deputies (and their families) dealing with the many stressors involved in police work (both on and off the job). If you would like services but do not want them to be connected to the Department, all insurance options offered by the County provide external mental health resources, which can be accessed by calling the number on the back of your insurance card. Reaching out is an essential component of maintaining mental well-being.
The emphasis on seeking support extends beyond individual well-being; it contributes to the collective resilience of our Department. By acknowledging and addressing the challenges of 2023 together, we can all play a role in fostering a sense of camaraderie and understanding. This shared experience reinforces the importance of mental well-being within the profession, ultimately contributing to a more resilient and supportive law enforcement family.