Podcast weblog: A career in law enforcement is one of the most rewarding, challenging, and selfless professions out there. The Guns and Yoga podcast explores the intersection between the impact a first responder career can have on those on the job, their families, and the importance of adopting and maintaining a holistic lifestyle. Wendy Hummell is a seasoned law enforcement officer in the Midwest with close to 25 years experience. She is a LEO spouse, mother, and wellness enthusiast. She knows first-hand the difficulties this line of work can bring. For the past decade, Wendy has been exploring various ways to improve her emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical well – being. She continues to learn and has a passion for sharing these tools to improve the quality of life not only for herself and her family, but for all first responders. Wendy is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. She teaches yoga, mindfulness, and resiliency to first responders at her current agency where she works as the Health and Wellness Coordinator. She also teaches throughout the state of Kansas and other national platforms. Wendy retired from the Wichita Police Department in 2019 at the rank of Detective where she spent a majority of her career working persons crimes. The intention of this podcast is to add value, provide support, and share resources by providing a platform for honest conversations with first responders, family members, retirees, and wellness experts. Whether you are a law enforcement officer, work in corrections, dispatch, Fire, EMS, The Prosecutors Office, the Coroners Officer, are a member of the military, family member or anyone who supports front line workers, please subscribe today and hear hear the stories of these brave men and women, the challenges and difficulties they have faced; the wonderful programs, people, and resources available to support first responders.
Tuesday Sep 20, 2022
Tuesday Sep 20, 2022
Tuesday Sep 20, 2022
Today’s show will be of special interest for those agency decision makers and leaders, politicians, or anyone interested in research to support wellness programming. Dr. Colby Mills is a Clinical and Police Psychologist who works at Forge VFR in Virginia. He has extensive experience working with veterans and first responders. Colby reached out and told me how he and his colleagues created a national survey in conjunction with the US Marshalls in which approximately nearly 9,000 respondents from all first responder agencies, local state and federal, participated. This survey asks questions about suicidal ideations, PTSD, and depression. They also looked at common stressors and identified those that had the most impact. I don’t want to give too much away, but the preliminary results are consistent with other research studies I am familiar with in that the more damaging stressors were found to be from within the organization, morale, being overworked, and lack of closure on critical incidents.
The way I see it, these survey results serve as an incredible opportunity for commanders, politicians, and decision makers to understand, educate, and inform themselves on how first responders are impacted by the organizational culture. Of course, we can’t always help overtime and investigations, BUT adopting a conscious leadership approach when it comes to understanding and addressing the stressors known to impact the troops the most will prove to not only support those struggling, but potentially prevent or diminish the blow, and who knows maybe improve retention and morale along the way.
Conscious leaders are open, curious, and committed to learning, not attached to the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality.
This survey provides those conscious leaders to be “armed with the facts” to inform future programming and implement resources at their agency that are trusted, effective, and accessible.
Colby discusses some of the findings which confirm many still suffer in silence; 20% reported clinical levels of anxiety, but 74% of those people have never been formally diagnosed by a professional; the results show similar numbers for depression and PTSD.
3% of officers surveyed reported having active thoughts of suicide.
The reasons cited for not seeking help are confidentiality concerns, stigma, and lack of access to resources.
We cover a lot of ground in this conversation - sleep, mindfulness, meditation, and moral injury to name a few. Moral injury has been coming up a lot lately in this show; in my most recent podcast with Michael Sugure, author of relentless courage, he recounts his story of how organizational betrayal led to his moral injury; a psychological injury that surfaces as a result of conflict between what your moral code says you should be doing and your actions, and in Michael’s case this injury was inflicted by his own agency. This is consistent with the survey results.
After listening to this episode, I encourage you to check out the survey which will be released this fall and, share it with agency decision makers, politicians, or commanders. This is the type of research we need to move forward to get the resources in place needed to support those on the front lines and to make lasting change on the first responder wellness front.