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Wellness: How to support your personnel

The concept of wellness encompasses the whole body, and leaders play a role in supporting the physical, mental and emotional needs of first responders

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol.

And Today’s Tip is for all public safety, particularly those of you who are leaders. I want to talk about your members’ health and wellness, and how you, as a leader, can support their wellbeing.

Health and wellness isn’t solely about physical fitness. And don’t misunderstand, folks, physical fitness is as important today as it’s always been. But mental health, dietary habits, sleep, and annual preventive physicals are all inextricably linked. And as a leader, you have a role to play!

Start with physical fitness. Encourage a culture that values health and wellness. It doesn’t have to be the weight room; there’s lots of ways to get PT in. Regular exercise has many benefits.

And then there’s mental health. Take time to ensure your members know what mental health resources are available and how to access them. Make mental health a priority. And this is critical: Don’t allow a stigma against getting help to exist in your organization. Breaking down that stigma starts with you and the behaviors you model as a leader in your organization.

Maintain a healthy diet and consistent sleep schedule. I know it’s an uphill battle for people in public safety. But there are resources available to assist members. Contact your local healthcare provider, nutritionist, or sleep specialist to see if they’re willing to come in and give you some help.

Lastly, encourage your members to have a regular annual physical assessment by a physician. For firefighters, NFPA 1582 provides an excellent physician’s guide that members can take with them and review with their doctor. Otherwise, getting a regular physical will help you know your numbers and how you can better take care of yourself. Again, there’s no room for stigma here. When you know your risks, you can help mitigate your risks through diet, exercise and, as necessary, medicine.

Our members’ health and wellness is essential to the courageous work they do. When you as a public safety leader take it seriously, they will too.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.