DSP takes creative approach to tackling mental health needs for officers
DELAWARE – “When you start policing and come out of the academy, your backpack is empty. Maybe it has a couple of stones from your childhood or challenging experiences. During policing, you end up putting a lot of stones in that backpack,” Delaware State Police Captain Jennifer Griffin said.
It’s a weight that Delaware State Police are looking to no longer carry with the launch of its DSP Wellness App. The app provides mental health support with a focus on officer wellness.
“This is really forward-thinking. For an agency to make this type of step and provide this support and access to resources for their team members,” Executive Director of NAMI Delaware Dr. Joshua Thomas said.
“So to try to alleviate some of that fatigue, the burnout, the stress, and those family challenges. I mean just working in policing, in general, can be very challenging due to the schedule, the demand for 24-hour services,” Captain Griffin said.
The app features include confidential access to counseling services, safety, and crime prevention tips, as well as a self-assessment tool that allows users to rate how they feel mentally.
“We want police officers to show up and have good communication, presentation, be sympathetic and empathetic to people, be understanding and be fair,” Captain Griffin said.
When an officer puts on a badge and uniform, they’re expected to protect the community. I’m told what you don’t see behind the badge is a level of stress that doesn’t go away when the shift ends.
In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness says officers are at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
“If an officer is distracted by mental health concerns, that is not optimal conditions for going out and serving the public and dealing with a crisis and difficult situations,” Dr. Thomas said.
With a new tool right in their own pockets, Captain Griffin says the goal is to give officers more resources to protect and serve to the best of their abilities. “So this is a resource for the officers, and our civilians, and their families. This also hopefully creates more adjusted, mentally well, and physically well officers who respond to their complaints,” Captain Griffin said.
Now the app isn’t just for officers but DSP retirees and family members can access materials as well. Also on the app, there’s a fitness nutrition and injury prevention tool with a focus on the overall wellness of the officer.
The DSP Wellness App is now available to download in the app store.