By Amy Morgan MSC
Seeking mental health resources after a critical incident should be viewed the same as an individual going to the doctor or hospital after being physically injured. Remind your team that the more they are willing to use resources, the stronger they will end up being as an individual as well as a valued team member.
Here are five post-action steps individuals on your team should take to avoid trauma after-effects.
1. Begin discussions. Gather together and discuss the trauma of the event that just occurred. My workbook has a script for leaders to use to explain what trauma is, how it occurs and what effects it can have. This process brings the group together and helps them to know that any reactions they are having to the incident are normal and acceptable.
2. Expectations versus reality. Discuss what was supposed to happen, what actually happened and compare the two. Then you must discuss what was going right and should be repeated in the future. Finally, you must discuss what could be improved upon.
3. Positive reframing. This is a process of story-telling where individuals tell their story of what happened, but learn to take out blame, anger, resentment by removing or editing small portions of the story, keeping all the facts intact, so that it is neutralized, and fact-based. This prevents resentment and lasting negative effects down the line.
4. Getting back to center. This part of the process helps the group come back together as a team and creates a blank slate, a fresh start for going forward.
5. Follow-up plan. The Post-Action Strategic Debriefing process is a first-aid type plan immediately following a critical incident. But long-term follow-up and care resources are discussed which need to be used by team members, to help prevent PTSD and other residual effects which will weaken the mental, physical, and emotional health. By using follow-up resources, the individuals circle back around to the preparedness stage by getting themselves strong in all 3 areas once again.
Mental and emotional wellness and strength are just as important as physical health and strength, and can be trained and prepared for in the same way.
Ms. Amy Morgan is an instructional designer, trainer and strategist via Academy Hour, a training provider offering courses to law enforcement, first response teams and business groups. She is pursuing a Doctorate of Education degree with a specialization in curriculum and teaching, has earned a Master's degree in Counseling, and holds a Bachelor's of Science in Behavioral Sciences. She previously served as the Training Officer for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and as an Instructional Systems Designer and Trainer for the Federal Aviation Administration. Additionally, she currently serves as the corporate training developer for DC-based Changeis, Inc., a federal contract services provider.
Ms. Morgan writes/publishes therapy resource workbooks & training materials, and serves as a subject matter expert and presenter of leadership & mental health training sessions for the International Public Safety Association. Ms. Morgan also serves as a curriculum developer and instructor of mental health courses for the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training in Oklahoma. Ms. Morgan is a certified trainer for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and is trained as a QPR (Question Persuade Refer) trainer as well as a Crisis Prevention Institute Non-Violent Physical Crisis Intervention trainer. Additionally, she is Oklahoma Supreme Court certified as a civil mediator, and she has achieved Mensa membership status.