NAMI, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), released a groundbreaking new report, Preparing for the Unimaginable: How chiefs can safeguard officer mental health before and after mass casualty events.
In 2014, NAMI met with Chief Michael Kehoe of the Newtown (Conn.) Police Department to help develop a roadmap for navigating the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. Working with Chief Kehoe, NAMI convened an expert advisory group—the first of its kind—comprised of police chiefs who had managed departments impacted by mass shootings and mental health professionals who have worked with these departments. Their insights form the core of the report. They vividly illustrate that the mental wellness of police officers is affected by responding to violent tragedies—and also by responding to day-to-day traumatic events.
Our work on officer mental health after tragic incidents reveals unique challenges that police face. At the same time, it tells us something we at NAMI are reminded of every day: Mental health conditions affect everyone. Stigma and the fear of seeking help affect people from all sectors of society – including people who are strong and resourceful. Police officers are part of our NAMI community and their mental health should not be overlooked.
The unique publication offers expert advice and practical tips for helping officers to heal emotionally, managing public reaction, dealing with the media, building relationships with other first responder agencies and much more. But what makes this report especially unprecedented are the case studies and personal stories that come directly from sources in the field, contributed by chiefs, officers and mental health professionals who have lived through traumatic events.