Plymouth Police Take New Approach to Mental Health
In the course of a day, police officers respond to a variety of different calls.
“They call when they have a problem,” said Plymouth Public Safety Director Mike Goldstein. “It’s our job to try and solve that problem. Some problems are very innocuous and some are very grave.”
Goldstein says that some of the things officers see on the job can be hard to digest.
“Some of the images, they accumulate over time, right? And if you don’t have a healthy way to get that off your shoulders. It can be debilitating,” he said.
On top of that, Goldstein admits that, overall, police don’t do a very good job of taking care of themselves.
“We have higher incidents of cardiovascular disease, higher incidents of diabetes, higher incidents of mental health issues, chemical dependency, etc.,” Goldstein said.
‘Check Up from the Neck Up’
It’s why the Plymouth Police Department implemented a program called Check Up from the Neck Up, which requires all of the department’s sworn officers to meet with a mental health professional once a year.
“And I really don’t necessarily care what they talk about,” Goldstein said. “I just want them to establish a relationship, so if something were to come about in someone’s life and they wanted to have someone to connect with, they’ll already have that relationship.”
The unique feature is that the mental health provider is a retired law enforcement officer.
“Who had a full career, who clearly understands the dynamics of the job and interacts pretty well with other law enforcement personnel and other public safety folks who go to see him,” Goldstein said.
The new program is built into the department’s budget and comes at no cost to the officers. The hope is this tool will help police deal with the trauma that comes with the job.
“We’ve lost officers due to the stress of the job, who were still young and vibrant,” Goldstein said. “We don’t want that to happen in the future. We want to do whatever we can to keep people as healthy as possible.”
And it’s not just the sworn officers who get access to mental health services. All of the department’s civilian personnel have the option to see the therapist as well.