Stress seems to be inevitable these days – in our work, relationships, and life brought about by the competitive, fast-paced lifestyles we’re leading and external factors and circumstances we’re exposed to. The field of law enforcement is by nature demanding and exposure to stressful situations is the norm more than an exception. It is no surprise that law enforcement officers are at a much higher risk of stress. Self-care and mindfulness have been identified as ways to cope with these, but sometimes, it helps to just have someone to talk to.
Peer support is identified to be extremely helpful in addressing stress. Today’s instructor, Alana Negroni will be talking about the implementation of Peer Support Programs in highly stressful fields like law enforcement. Alana is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is certified in Critical Incident Stress Management. She is also a member of the Counseling Team International. She provides counseling services to public service and government agencies to help their employees deal with stress and its effects.
Points she covered in this session include:
- The purpose of implementing a Peer Support Program to provide additional support and allow a space to vent and share for stressed personnel.
- The concept of the Helping Triad that details on where people typically reach out for support when faced with challenges.
- Recognizing people as the most important resource of any organization and thus must be taken care of.
- Guidelines on the desired characteristics of an effective peer supporter to look for.
- A look into the typical selection criteria and procedure that includes a nomination process, expressed desire from the potential peer supporter, proficiency rating through interview/test, supervisor’s endorsement, and completing a three-day training.
- The coverage of the comprehensive peer supporter three-day training.
- The challenging aspects of being a peer supporter.
- Templates and handouts to help agencies in the planning, implementation, or calibration of their own Peer Support Program, including questions to include/ask in the oral interview.
- Quantifying the program’s effectiveness and need for resources through the statistics form/record.
- The responsibilities and expectations from the peer supporter.
- The important points that must be addressed in the program’s policy.
- Providing a peer support agreement regarding a supporter’s removal and reinstatement from the team.
- Conferences, meetings, trainings, and other awareness and visibility efforts made available to peer supporters as part of team maintenance.
- The outcomes by which the success of a Peer Support Program is measured.
- The Public Safety/Peer Support/Supervisor Coach App designed as a comprehensive one-stop resource for peer supporters.
- Questions raised during the Q&A segment were about:
- Laws protecting peer supporters and other legal issues related to peer support programs.
- Addressing breach of confidentiality/trust within the peer supporters.
- Differentiating the roles and responsibilities of a peer support team, a CIT, and an EAP.
- Recommended Brené Brown resources.
- Initiating the implementation of a peer support program.
- Inter-agency peer support program coalitions.
- The suggested employee to supporter ratio and number of peer supporters needed to start a program.
- The type of employees that can be peer supporters.
- Who supports the supporters.
- Studies demonstrating the impact of peer support programs.
- Peer supporters’ tenure in the role.