DELAWARE – “When you start policing and you get out of the academy, your backpack is empty. Maybe he has some rocks from your childhood or difficult experiences. During policing, you end up putting a lot of rocks in that backpack,” Delaware State Police Capt. Jennifer Griffin said.
It’s a burden the Delaware State Police are looking to lift off with the launch of their DSP wellness app.
The app provides mental health support focused on officer well-being. “It’s really groundbreaking. For an agency to take this type of step and provide this support and access to resources for their team members,” said NAMI Delaware Executive Director Dr. Joshua Thomas .
“So to try to alleviate some of that fatigue, burnout, stress, and family challenges. I mean just working in policing in general can be very difficult because of the schedule, the demand for round-the-clock service,” Capt Griffin said.
App features include confidential access to counseling services, safety and crime prevention tips,
as well as a self-assessment tool that allows users to rate how they feel mentally. “We want the police to show up and have good communication, good presentation, be sympathetic and empathetic to people, be understanding and be fair,” Capt. Griffin said.
When an officer dons a badge and uniform, he is expected to protect the community. I’ve been told that what you don’t see behind the badge is a level of stress that doesn’t go away at the end of the shift.
In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness says officers are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. “If an officer is distracted by mental health issues, those are not optimal conditions to go out and serve the public and deal with crisis and difficult situations,” Dr. Thomas said.
With a new tool in their own pockets, Captain Griffin says the goal is to give officers more resources to protect and serve to the best of their abilities. “So it’s a resource for officers, our civilians and their families. It also hopefully creates more fit, mentally and physically well officers who respond to their complaints,” Capt Griffin said.
Now, the app is not just for agents, but DSP retirees and their family members can also access the material.
Also on the app is a nutrition and injury prevention tool focused on the general well-being of the officer.
The DSP Wellness app is now available for download in the App Store.