Implementing peer conducted mental health and wellness checks in rural law enforcement: a quality improvement project

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Date

2023

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing

Abstract

Background and purpose: Law enforcement officers in the United States are at a significantly increased risk of suicide and mental health challenges, accompanied with increased perceptions of stigma that limits mental health resource utilization. These trends are even more prominent among rural law enforcement officers compared to their urban counterparts. The purpose of this quality improvement project was to assist a rural law enforcement detachment in decreasing mental health stigma through implementation of peer conducted mental health and wellness check-ins. Methods: Baseline and progressive trends of stigma were assessed through the Attitudes About Mental Illness and its Treatment Scale (AMIS) following implementation of peer conducted proactive mental health support check-ins in the detachment. Intervention: This project utilized peer support law enforcement members to facilitate scheduled check-in's and discuss predetermined mental health topics while facilitating access of additional resources and education that could improve health outcomes. Results: A small rural law enforcement detachment conducted peer facilitated mental health and wellness checks with its full team of six team members. Evaluation of the AMIS assessments and personal feedback indicated that these meetings decreased reports of stigma and increased open discussion of mental health issues. Conclusion: Conclusive support for this intervention cannot be ascertained due to the small sample size and short duration of evaluation. However, this initiative indicates a framework for initiating similar processes in other areas and reveals a promising acceptance and trend of utilization and support by involved law enforcement members.

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