Students aren’t the only ones thinking hard about how to manage their stress. The Division of Public Safety is introducing a new mental health-based training program for all of its employees, including Penn Police and PennComm dispatchers.
DPS is working with members of the Positive Psychology Center housed in the Psychology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences to craft the training program. The center aims to promote research and training in the mental health fields of positive psychology and resilience, which is the study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.
Karen Reivich, a researcher for the center, is working closely with Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush to create a program that will help public safety on campus deal with high stress situations and respond effectively and calmly to emergency situations.
Over the 2015-16 academic year, DPS will be holding these mental-resilience training sessions for members of PennComm, the police force and all the members of public safety in mixed, small group sessions. DPS employees who respond to calls on the recently established mental health HELP line will also receive the training.
“Everyone’s got to take a deep breath when they’re responding,” Rush said. “Our goal is to empower our personnel when they’re all working together to respond to an emergency call.”
Reivich has been conducting similar resilience training programs for other schools and organizations, including the United States Army, where her program trained about 30,000 soldiers over the last five years.
“We teach skills to help people in high stress professions,” Reivich said. “We aim to help them have the mindset that enables them to productively deal with the structures they face, and how to approach problems with a clear mind free of bias.”
The training will start in November and will include 10 one-day sessions over the course of the academic year.
“These skills will help our department of public safety to increase wellbeing and also help them to be really effective at what they do,” Reivich said. “We do this training around the world, and to be able to bring it to the people who keep us safe gives me a great sense of gratitude and is really exciting for me.”
DPS’s past training programs have included programs based on eliminating LGBT or gender-biased policing, encouraging religious tolerance taught by the University chaplain and providing other mental health wellness and racial-bias eradicating programs.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.