One of the most powerful personal traits we can support during any mental health growth may be resilience, and many find that one of the most powerful aspects of resilience is self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief that a person has the ability to be effective in their world and the world around them. The relationship between self-efficacy and resources, or more accurately, the knowing and confidence of availability of these resources, is what empowers our people. For example, having a trusted and respected peer support team is one example of a resource; feeling as though this team is accessible 24/7 would be another aspect to it. Another example of a resource is Edmonton Police’s Reintegration Program. Again, this resource is trusted and respected, as well as accessible 24/7, which is the key to the power of these resources.
Educating our police service members in what these resources are, and how they may support us in our time of need, continues this powerful piece. When members understand what available resources exist within an organization and outside of an organization, as well as when they are best utilized, they are in the position as leaders to suggest these same resources to their teammates, should they see fit. When members are in distress or stressed, they may not remember what is available to them for support in that moment. Each one of us, regardless of our rank or position within the organization, has the opportunity to lead by recognizing when one of our work family may benefit from a particular resource – thus the importance of education. Resources are only useful (and should only be called resources) if they are accessible and effective.
There can be two components to the experience of having these available, trusted resources. The first would be feeling valued, the second, feeling empowered. When our members feel valued, they are much more likely to trust the organization they are serving. They are less likely to be an organizational liability and are much more likely to be engaged in “common sense” while serving. When they feel valued and empowered, inspiration, passion and commitment to serving their community may be present in our members, along with pride in representing the organization they are serving. Let’s face it: when we believe and trust in the intentions of the organization, delivering policing services and responses to the community in a clear, positive and effective way are much more likely.
“Each one of us, regardless of our rank or position within the organization, has the opportunity to lead by recognizing when one of our work family may benefit from a particular resource – thus the Importance of education.”Advertisement
Ensuring these resources are – and remain – trusted at all times is key in ensuring their efficacy. If your peer support team and/or Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team are comprised of individuals who are not trusted (for whatever the reason), valid or not, it is the experience of the members that will determine its efficacy. Reaching out to membership in a safe way to inquire about their experience of a particular resource, even if perceptual at the time—meaning that some may not have had the opportunity to utilize it—provides feedback of the actual power of the resource. This feedback important as the organization is dedicating time and financial means to ensure its availability, and hopefully its efficacy.
Leaders, be it high-ranking police, constable or civilian, must discuss the power of the resources available within their organization and within their communities. Have meaningful conversations with your colleagues, friends and family, network with your peers and, most importantly, always say yes to any opportunity that involves connecting with other organizations and any training that comes your way. If you can, attend the training/conferences regardless of whether the organization will pay. The learning, connection and sharing of resources is so powerful that the rewards will be unending in repayment. There is no dollar amount we can put on discovering an amazing resource and bringing it forth.
I recently experienced this when I had the pleasure of watching York Regional Police (YRP) bring Edmonton Police’s Reintegration After Critical Incident and Long-Term Leave program into their organization. Back in 2015, I attended their training; I loved it so much and felt its powerful mental health impact on the EPS organization, so I attended it once again in 2017 on my own dollar and time. I then approached our Chief (at the time) and had many meetings with our staff Psychologist to have YRP implement this powerful resource. Today, because of so many who had inspiring conversations, it is now implemented.
So, get excited, never give up and share any resource you see as amazing so your organization can have the most resilient, self-efficacious, valued and empowered members.
Michelle Vincent is a retired York Regional Police officer and the founder of The Haven, Ontario’s first non-profit, inpatient treatment centre exclusive to first responders and uniform personnel. Contact her at email@example.com.
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