The Working Mind First Responders offers police a new kind of protection
Staff sergeant Beth Milliard is no stranger to the mental health impact of policework. Coming from a police family, she entered her career committed to making mental health a priority — for herself and her fellow officers.
It was that drive to create a more supportive environment that led her to The Working Mind First Responders (TWMFR) training. While at first she was simply looking to explore options for her service, York Regional Police (YRP), she would ultimately become a master trainer with the program.
“Police are very skeptical and very honest. Yet when we piloted this course for the service, almost 100 per cent of the feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” she said, adding with a laugh that the few negative comments had to do with things like trouble finding parking. “After the initial feedback, it became clear that we needed to make the course mandatory for everyone in the service.”
The interactive course, which was recently adapted to a virtual format (until it’s safe to return to in-person learning), aims to build mental health awareness, reduce stigma, and promote resiliency. Using an evidence-based approach, participants learn how to self-assess and talk about mental health, along with strategies to help them cope with challenges and resources to seek out when they need support.