Yesterday I had the privilege of listening to an International Bipolar Federation interview with Retired Sergeant and Chairman Ron Clark, RN, MS, APSO. Ron is involved with the Badge of Life Program. The mission of Badge of Life is a 12-year-old program to support officers in times of crisis. Depression, PTSD, and suicide is very high in law enforcement. They see really bad things. Sometimes it is impossible to get those images out of their mind.
Badge of Life is a proactive organization to reach officers before they are in trouble. They need support. Most officers, fireman, and paramedics are afraid if they say anything regarding struggling with depression or PTSD issues they will lose their jobs. They are afraid to confide in peers. According to Ron Clark more training is being provided for peer support. They encourage other officers to see someone. Ron said, “we need to have a buddy system. It works.”
In 1980 PTSD was renamed PTSI.(I) stands for injury rather than disorder. If an officer was injured with a broken leg on the job it would have been covered. Mental Health is not treated the same way. 38 years and it is still not recognized nation wide. Colorado and Maine just got coverage for mental illness vs physical injury.
Bottom line is we can do better for our officers.
Check back tomorrow for Crisis Intervention Training that is being done for our officers. When officers receive training in dealing with citizens struggling with mental health issues, the entire incident usually turns out to be a win for everyone involved. Looking forward to sharing my experience with police officers and paramedics in 2010.