Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $165,000)
The Stockbridge Police Department (SPD) is newly established, and onboarding consists of mental health testing and a psychological evaluation. There afterward, SPD officers and their families can receive mental health care through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP program is offered to all employees in City government. However, the City’s EAP services are not catered to meet the specific needs of law enforcement personnel and their families, such as with the proposed SPD Mental Wellness and Physical Health program. The problem is that although the above initiatives are great solutions for physical health and wellness programs citywide, as research identifies, law enforcement personnel have more specific needs as it relates to mental health and wellness care. Law enforcement is unique in comparison to other professions.
Often, officers are reluctant to participate in mental health and awareness programs because of stigma, cultural reasons, etc. Yet, studies discuss that officers are likely to participate in mental wellness programs if comprehensive initiatives are implemented by agencies. The SPD comprehensive implementation plan for officers will consist of Peer Support, a Chaplaincy program, mental wellness and physical health activities and educational training courses; the availability of mental health reading materials and supplies; identifying and aesthetically outfitting a wellness reset room; conducting an agency cultural wellness assessment, facilitating wellness initiatives specific to families; including civilian and support personnel in wellness activities; specialized training for the core Wellness Team members, and hosting Statewide mindful leadership training designed to promote wellness in leaders and staff and create a culture of wellness and resiliency in our region and throughout the State of Georgia.
Initiatives of the SPD Mental Wellness and Physical Health program will aid with implementing and institutionalizing community policing by not only offering programs to SPD staff, but also offering training to law enforcement partners throughout the state of Georgia, the Stockbridge Community, City government employees, and the like. Best practice training from experts will be solicited to share and increase knowledge about mental wellness and prevention for officers, families, first responders, and the community. Additionally, training will be facilitated by community partners and consultants related to; Leadership, Resiliency, Peer Support, Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), Psychoeducation, Mental Health, etc.
The SPD Mental Wellness and Physical Health program needs assistance from Federal funds to aid in providing employees with an internal mental health support system that enhances organizational knowledge and competence, along with maintaining the well-being of the agency, law enforcement families, and the community.