Whether it’s a schoolyard bully or trolls on Twitter, no one likes being harrassed. And while, yes, Taylor Swift might be right that “the haters gonna hate,” that often doesn’t help in terms of managing the negative feelings that grow from dealing with public criticism on a day in, day out basis.
So what do you do when your very profession – and for most of us, an integral part of our identities — attracts unwanted, negative attention?
- some ways these heroes can care for their mental health and stay strong, resilient, and healthy, despite a world that seems intent on breaking them.
Justice Clearinghouse Editors (JCH): Amy, what inspired you to develop this topic?
Amy Morgan: My whole reason for starting Academy Hour was because of the difficulties that I saw law enforcement and emergency response personnel going through, and my hoping that I could help by offering mental health training as a way of support. They see very difficult situations, they interact with some very difficult people, and their job is all-around challenging. You put someone in this type of job and offer them continuous support and encouragement, and it’s still a very difficult job. But when you have someone in this job and they are also having the criticism of people in the media, on the street, in daily interactions, etc., and it just increases the challenge of managing what they do.
Those who go into law enforcement are very special, from the start.
JCH: Public criticism isn’t new though…? Or has it actually changed?
Amy: There are always going to be people who criticize, and there always have been. Some people criticize everything, and some people choose one thing and critique that. For some, finding problems in law enforcement is what they’ve chosen as their “cause.” These types of people look for negatives and hone in on them and look for opportunities to criticize and point out wrongs or mistakes. This is human nature and going to always be an issue. The “new” to this is that social media, media in general, and public venues and formats, all allow for these types of people to have their concerns heard loudly and in a wide-spread way that wasn’t available before. Like anything – political issues or social issues, some people hear something in a public format and jump on board without having done any research on their own. So law-enforcement-criticism gets heard, and people who don’t look for their own information just jump on whatever incident they were shown, and become critics themselves. It’s hard to counter things like this, when this is what’s promoted most loudly.
The “new” to this is that social media, media in general, and public venues and formats,
all allow for these types of people to have their concerns heard loudly
and in a wide-spread way that wasn’t available before.
JCH: Some people say that criticism is just a part of the job… The “Toughen up buttercup” attitude. Or that “if you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen.” How would you counter this belief?
Amy: Those who go into law enforcement are very special, from the start. Choosing a job where you know your life and safety will be at risk on a daily basis takes someone unique, who really wants to make a difference. They choose it because they feel it’s important, despite the risk. That’s enough “heat,” in my opinion, without having to also endure public criticism. These are strong, willing individuals who want to help and to make a positive difference in their community. They do not expect nor invite criticism, and they feel like they are doing something worthwhile. Criticism becomes part of what they have to deal with, because they are in that job, but I do not believe they should have to just accept it as part of their job. This is my opinion and my belief – I feel like the general public should recognize the hard work and true intent of most officers, and do whatever they can to support the very officers who they could someday call to save them from danger. Every industry has a few who aren’t right for their jobs… and those few should not be allowed to continue in their job, whatever the field. But the majority of officers, who have good intent and who give everything to their jobs, should receive support, encouragement and anything else we can do to assist them so that they can be better, rather than tearing them down and criticizing their every move, and expecting them all to endure that criticism because they chose a very hard job.
The general public should recognize the hard work
and true intent of most officers,
and do whatever they can to support the very officers
who they could someday call to save them from danger.
JCH: What are some of the most important ways public safety professionals can make their mental wellbeing and health a priority – especially in light of today’s heightened scrutiny?
Amy: I’ll cover this more in depth during the webinar, but they need to remember that the opinions of a few should not determine how they see themselves in their jobs. They need to keep in mind why they went into law enforcement in the first place, remember their goal to be positive role models and influences in the community, and always take care of their own health and well-being. The more negative someone endures, the more they need to balance it with positives.
Keep in mind why they went into law enforcement in the first place,
remember their goal to be positive role models and influences in the community,
and always take care of their own health and well-being.
JCH: Amy, what inspires you to do the work you do?
Amy: I have a passion for mental health, for providing HOPE to those who may be feeling like they’ve lost it. I care deeply about the well-being of others, particularly when it comes to those who have endured difficulties. When I started getting involved with law enforcement and emergency responders and those in the justice field, I began to see just a few of the difficulties and challenges they encounter regularly, and I saw the toll it takes on them. I am inspired by every single person who I can help, when I can provide some sort of explanation about why they feel the way they do and help them to manage it. I want to provide help, and hope, and encouragement to those who give their lives to helping the rest of us.
Click Here to Watch “Managing Public Criticism: What to Do When Everything Seems Like an Act of Futility.”