Mass Tragedies, Police and Mental Health: NAMI Releases Guide for Law Enforcement Leaders; "Preparing for the Unimaginable”

May 25 2016

ARLINGTON, Va., May 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today released a guide for police leaders, Preparing for the Unimaginable, to help police departments prepare for mass casualty events and support emotional resiliency for first-responders and their communities.

NAMI developed the guide at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Chief of Michael Kehoe (ret.) of the Newtown, Conn. police department, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012.

The guide "will provide chiefs and sheriffs with awareness and guidance on best practices for safeguarding mental health and wellness of first responders in the early moments of critical events and during the long aftermath," writes Chief Kehoe in the foreword.

Download the guide at www.nami.org/cops

Police officials and mental health professionals involved in the guide's development agree that the likelihood of a mass casualty event in any community actually is low—but that preparation is essential in case the unimaginable ever does occur.

"Mental wellness is important regardless of whether or not a mass casualty event ever occurs. 'Police officers also face mental health issues in their everyday work," Giliberti said. "For all police departments, a key challenge is to eliminate stigma from seeking help for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other problems."

The guide has three sections and eight chapters. It includes personal stories:

Why Mental Wellness Matters

·         Understanding Trauma and Resiliency

Preparing for a Mass Casualty Event

·         Recommendations for Enhancing Resilience

·         Planning the Incident Response for a Mass Casualty Event

·         Building Your Media Team and Strategy for a Mass Casualty Event

Managing a Mass Casualty Event and its Aftermath 

·         Immediate Incident Response

·         The First Weeks: From Chaos to New Normal

·         The First Months

·         The Long Haul

DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) funded the guide and is also releasing it today.

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

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www.nami.org/cops