Teaming Up With The Mental Health Profession To Make A Difference: Your Input Needed.
By Caroline Angel, R.N., Ph.D.
When people ask me what I do, I say: I work with the good guys.
I spend my days in service of those who serve/d on the frontlines, the Police and America’s Veterans.
By training, I am a psychiatric mental health nurse who has spent the last twenty years learning what happens to people who survive distressing life events. I also study how surviving those events cause people to grow in the most extraordinary ways. I have conducted research with police who were trained to lead face-to-face meetings between crime victims and their offenders (I studied post-traumatic stress in the crime victims). I then went on to support our transitioning service members to civilian life by leading the Central NJ Chapter of Team Red, White & Blue, a veteran service organization that enriches veterans’ lives by connecting them to their communities through physical and social activity (www.teamrwb.org). I also lead the research efforts for Team RWB now, and supervise police students as they build an evidence basis to their policing practices through a Masters degree program at the University of Cambridge.
Police are some of the most resilient people I know. They bounce back readily from adverse events because of their training and positive mindset. However, I believe that America can do more for the law enforcement community to support the stressful roles and lives that they are facing everyday. But, we need your help. Tell us your stories. We need to know you. We need to know your strengths as law enforcement officers, and we need to know, especially, the challenges you face. There are very high rates of stress that police encounter. This can lead to anxiety, depression, drinking, drugging, and lack of interest in things that were previously enjoyable. It can also lead to suicide. The most important thing to do is to stay connected to others; do not become isolated.
As a concerned citizen for the blue line, I would like to see our communities get to know our law enforcement officers better on an individual level.
One way to do this is to participate in a project that I am co-leading with researchers at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. We are trying to understand how stress; resilience; physical health; an idea that we at Team RWB are calling “enrichment” (which is defined as physical, mental, and emotional health); genuine relationships; and sense of purpose differ between law enforcement officers, veterans, and civilians. To participate in the online, voluntary anonymous survey, go to https://syracuseuniversity.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6WqXgJAdCUNbBlz?RID=MLRP_0q7bwT46wN2gbAx&Q_CHL=email
I am also setting up a page where you can share your story with us. If you have anything you would like to tell America about the strengths you have, or the challenges you face, feel free to submit information here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/YourStoryNJBLUENOW
Finally, you can also participate with Team Red, White & Blue (www.teamrwb.org) or Operation Rebound NJ to meet others who serve on the front lines through military or policing. This may give you the stress relief outlet you might be looking for to help you get moving, have fun, and make new friends.
I don’t want to avoid mentioning that if you feel like you want to harm yourself, or are in a crisis, please reach out to Cop 2 Cop, a national call center at 1-866-COP-2COP (267-2267) or http://ubhc.rutgers.edu/cop2cop/
This is just the beginning. As I am committed to serving the frontline, the information you provide will begin an important conversation. In one way or another, we hope to hear from you.
Caroline M. Angel, R.N., Ph.D., Psychiatric Nurse; Research Director, Team Red, White & Blue,; Visiting Scholar, University of Cambridge. As Director of Research for Team Red, White & Blue, Angel has led the design and implementation of research projects covering the topics of health, social support, sense of purpose in life, life enrichment, civilian-military divide, and leadership. She has been part of the research team evaluating randomized controlled trials of police-led intervention in the United Kingdom and Australia. In her role as a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge, Angel has supervised graduate level research conducted by Master’s degree students in Applied Criminology and Police Management.