In last week’s post I wrote about the importance of giving people permission to seek help when they need it, and ideally inspiring them to be proactive in maintaining their physical, emotional and psychological wellness. “It is ok not to be ok and it is ok to get the help you need.” is a critical message for the men and women in the law enforcement profession and the greater first responder world.
You need to be cautious however, of sending the message that everyone will be damaged and broken because they served as law enforcement professionals. The law enforcement profession will change you, but it does not have to break you or destroy you. This is the reason it is important to first tell the men and women of law enforcement that “It is Ok to be Ok” and give them permission to be Ok. Ideally this message giving people permission to be ok would be done at the start of their careers, in the basic Academy, and then reinforced throughout their careers.
It is important to educate people coming into the profession about the realities of working in public safety. Law enforcement is one of the most complex, most challenging, most demanding and most rewarding professions in society. It offers tremendous diversity in types of call for service as well as opportunities to be of service to and help impact the lives of people living in the communities you serve.
The Suck Factor is also a reality of the profession and people need to be prepared for it. You also need to ensure you give them the tools to deal with those realities so they can develop strategies to Embrace the Suck, Look for the Good and Dare to Be Great and thrive in their careers, their relationships and their lives.
Once you have educated them about the realities of the profession and armed them with strategies to build resilience and wellness throughout their careers, then is the time to tell them “it is ok not to be ok” and give them permission to get the help they need early. As former New Jersey State Trooper, NBA referee and author Bob Delaney says, “The key is to interdict post traumatic stress before it becomes a disorder. ” I believe this is also the benefit of talking about STS / CCTS as I talked about in last week’s post.
It is important to give both messages – “It is ok to be ok.”, and “It is ok not to be ok and to seek help.” Only giving one of the two messages can set people up for problems.
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