The law enforcement and justice profession deal with different types of people with a myriad of personalities. It can get tricky having to decode each one and ensuring that your communication style is congruent to theirs. What's more challenging is if their personalities are a little bit more complicated than the usual, especially if the reason is not just a mere quirk but a mental disorder.
Seeing people in general, we tend to get an impression of their personality – if they are warm and bubbly, or if they're serious and solemn. Knowing and constantly seeing our family, friends, or colleagues, we often think that we know them enough to know if there's something wrong or what makes them tick. Sometimes mental health disorders manifest in the surface, allowing loved ones to intervene and provide support. But at times, it is hidden in the deepest recesses of an individual's mind and only gets identified when it's already severe, or worse, it's too late.
Amy Morgan graces the Justice Clearinghouse webinars once more to share her knowledge and experience in the field of behavioral science and mental health. Amy is the founder and owner of Academy Hour, a resource that provides awareness and education on mental health specifically catered to law enforcement and first responders that deal with these characters on their jobs
Specific topics that Amy covered and expounded on in this webinar are:
- The major resource for mental disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM-5.
- The common qualifier for all mental disorders is how it affects an individual’s functioning – at home, school, work, among others.
- What phobias are, and a sample of the numerous phobias, and agoraphobia, a fear of going out in public spaces, the only phobia listed in the DSM-5 considered as a diagnosed disorder.
Schizophrenia as a disorder that begins in early adulthood that features delusions, disorganized speech and behavior, and diminished emotionality.
- Various approaches to interacting with an individual suffering from schizophrenia including listening, giving the person space, and grounding the person to reality.
Bipolar disorder characterized by extreme mood swings shifting from manic and euphoric to severely depressive.
- Interacting with a person suffering from the disorder by understanding that their mood swings are just part of the illness and by making them feel safe.
Depression and various types of the disorder based on the duration and timing.
- The criteria list and/or symptoms for major depressive disorder that includes CONSTANT depression, diminished interest in activities, weight loss, insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue, guilt, lack of concentration and recurring thoughts of death.
- Other factors to consider that may aggravate depression and how to deal with depressed individuals by practicing patience and providing support.
How Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is caused by unexpected, distressing, or dramatic incidents and changes that can disrupt physical and psychological function.
- Various ways that trauma is manifested, and physiological effects that can affect their bodily and cognitive functions.
- Factors that trigger trauma as noises, smell and weather and how to mitigate the effects by breathing slow and deep, relaxing for the individual suffering, and for the one extending support through patience and compassion.
- Various personality disorders that may be observed in individuals such as paranoid personality, schizoid, borderline, avoidant and dependent personality disorder.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a common disorder where the individual lacks empathy and is pre-occupied with themselves and characteristics that they like about themselves as success, power, beauty, etc.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, another common personality disorder, where the individual is pre-occupied with perfectionism, details, and organization.
- Dealing with OCD by guiding the sufferer through small steps, changes, options and presenting possible outcomes.
Anxiety disorders as characterized by excessive worrying, irrational fears, self-consciousness, perfectionism, panic attacks and sleep issues.
- Combatting anxiety through mindful breathing, calming thoughts, and physical activity.
Suicidal behavior disorder where the individual goes through suicide ideation – a criterion for many mental health disorders, often caused by pain or loss.
- Warning signs to watch out for including withdrawal, depression, and hopelessness.
- Interacting with an individual contemplating suicide by listening with compassion and helping them find resources to help and intervene.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800‐273‐8255
- Traumatic Brain Injury and Drug Abuse are two other factors that may explain an individual’s erratic moods or behavior, which may manifest to have symptoms similar to mental disorders.
- The importance of awareness and education when dealing with mental health and people suffering from it.
- Attendees’ comments included a call to action to change the language related to suicide by using 'died by suicide' instead of 'committed suicide' to remove the blame and negative connotation.
- Other comments provided references to the National Lifeline by texting START to 741741, and a confidential resource for law enforcement through safecallnow.org.