Mental Health for First Responders
Many here live or know someone that lives with a child that struggles with some type of brokenness. You know how having one child that struggles effects how hard it is for a family, how it can tear up a family. This can lead to divorce, substance abuse, and broken homes. Our officers are responding to calls at these homes daily and in some cases several times a day. They see the struggles the families are going through and after being part of this they can also begin to struggle. Our correctional officers are working in an enclosed environment with many adults that are struggling with some type of brokenness every day. Our dispatchers are taking calls from people struggling with some type of brokenness every day. I am passionate about our employees being healthy and clear minded. That is why wellness programs are so important to me.
Citizens and family members regularly ask us, “How do you deal with the things you do, the things you see” or we hear “No way I could do what you do”, or “I don’t know how you deal with it”.
We see many different things throughout our career and those scenes, images, sounds, smells, and emotions can weigh on our minds and our hearts. We are taught to compartmentalize these things and move on and get the job done. We learn early on in our career to do this and as we are learning we get married, have children, become aunts and uncles, and become grandparents. We go to work, come home, go to movies, go on vacation, go to birthday parties, all the while some are still dealing with the smells, the sounds, the emotions, the scene. We go back to our homes after work and have to “flip a switch” and be a spouse, father/mother, sister/brother, aunt/uncle, and grandparent and it can become very difficult for some. Not all, but some might turn to drugs and alcohol, have marriage problems, and are easily angered, all the while they are “flipping the switch”.
We need to recognize those that are struggling and offer them assistance. We need to get behind them and encourage them to get help and when they need it we need a plan in place to get them the help they need. I have attended wellness presentations put on by Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen and his daughter, Taylor. The program they speak of is something that we must offer in Tippecanoe County. I have met with a representative from Sycamore Springs here in Lafayette and learned they have a program for adults suffering from traumatic events.
Bottom line is this, I want to have this program available to our staff and then work with our local leaders to bring this program to all Tippecanoe County first responders. I recently learned that there is a life insurance policy that county employees have through National Insurance Services and part of that policy is we can have up to 3 in-person assessments and counseling sessions at no charge to the county or individual. I also learned that many employees aren’t aware this is available to them. The program I want to work to implement will cost the county some money but I will work with our council and chosen health care facility to come up with the funds necessary to make this a reality. One way to pay for it could be to look at our vehicle budget and make adjustments there. I have seen us purchase new vehicles and then have them sit in our lot for several months before being issued. Let’s look at the funds that aren’t an immediate need and use them to invest in our employees. It is time we help our employees stay healthy and clear minded, we owe that to them. I thank you for taking the time to listen and again, I am Bob Goldsmith and I ask for your vote for Sheriff of Tippecanoe County.