The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 (LEMHWA) was signed into law in January 2018, recognizing that law enforcement agencies need and deserve support in their ongoing efforts to protect the mental health and well-being of their employees. Good mental and psychological health is just as essential as good physical health for law enforcement officers to be effective in keeping our country and our communities safe from crime and violence.
This web page will help you stay on top of the latest news related to LEMHWA and the latest efforts of the COPS Office and our partners across the Federal Government to implement it.
THE LEMHWA REPORTS
Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act: Report to Congress
Good mental and psychological health is just as essential as good physical health for law enforcement officers to be effective in keeping our country and our communities safe from crime and violence. With the passage of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, Congress took an important step in improving the delivery of and access to mental health and wellness services that will help our nation’s more than 800,000 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers. Many things, including strong relationships with the community, help keep officers safe on the job. This act called for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to submit a report to Congress on mental health practices and services in the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs that could be adopted by federal, state, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies and containing recommendations to Congress on effectiveness of crisis lines for law enforcement officers, efficacy of annual mental health checks for law enforcement officers, expansion of peer mentoring programs, and ensuring privacy considerations for these types of programs. The DOJ is pleased to respond to this requirement of the act with this report.
Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Programs: Eleven Case Studies
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 calls for the COPS Office to publish case studies of programs designed primarily to address officer psychological health and well-being. Aiming to focus on innovative but replicable programs in law enforcement agencies of various sizes around the country, the authors conducted 11 case studies of programs in 10 departments and one call-in crisis line. Each chapter of this publication describes agencies’ programs and their origins, focusing on elements that can be implemented elsewhere in the effort to protect the mental and emotional health of law enforcement officers, their nonsworn colleagues, and their families.
Funding Opportunities with LEMHWA
In FY 2019, the COPS Office is providing funding to improve the delivery of and access to mental health and wellness services for law enforcement through training and technical assistance, demonstration projects, and implementation of promising practices related to peer mentoring programs that are national in scope. The LEMHWA solicitation is open to all public governmental agencies, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, community groups, and faith-based organizations. For more information, visit the 2019 Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act Program page.
Reports of broad recommendations and collections of case studies are only part of the solution. Organizations can also look at their own policies and operations for opportunities. For example, how much control does your agency have in choosing a health insurance plan for your employees? Agencies can proactively decide to look for plans that do not place restrictions on behavioral health benefits and that have sufficient provider networks for beneficiaries to access. Even when provider choices are limited, agencies can also look to develop leave and scheduling policies that make it possible for employees to access services.
The COPS Office is committed to continuing to work with partners across the Federal Government and beyond to develop resources that will help law enforcement agencies address the organizational and managerial practices and actions that can affect the well-being of the officers they employ. As we identify and release additional information relating to the themes addressed in LEMHWA, you’ll always be able to find them here on our LEMHWA resource page.
Now that you have read the reports, are you interested in learning more about mental health and wellness? Explore some of these additional resources and ideas to help you and your agency take the next steps in building resilient officers and organizations.
- Stay on top of the ongoing work of the COPS Office/BJA–sponsored National Officer Safety and Wellness Group. https://cops.usdoj.gov/oswg
- Learn more the link between stress and health & safety and how crucial it is to take action on these recommendations from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2012/08/13/policestress and https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2017/05/16/officer-safety-research
- Follow the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) for Public Safety. This agenda was written with assistance from members of the Public Safety Sector Council that includes representation from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), and Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in February 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/nora/councils/pubsaf/research_agenda.html
- Read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices. This guide presents a select group of strategies based on the best available evidence to help communities and states sharpen their focus on prevention activities with the greatest potential to prevent suicide. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicidetechnicalpackage.pdf
- Learn about a 2001 workshop organized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and American Red Cross gathered 58 disaster mental health experts from six countries to address the impact of early psychological interventions and to identify what works, what doesn’t work, and what the gaps are in our knowledge. https://asprtracie.hhs.gov/technical-resources/resource/4066/mental-health-and-mass-violence-evidence-based-early-psychological-intervention-for-victims-survivors-of-mass-violence-a-workshop-to-reach-consensus-on-best-practices
- Create a vicarious trauma–informed organization with assistance from the Office for Victims of Crime’s (OVC) Vicarious Trauma Toolkit. The toolkit was developed on the premise that exposure to the traumatic experiences of other people—known as vicarious trauma—is an inevitable occupational challenge for the fields of victim services, emergency medical services, fire services, law enforcement, and other allied professionals; however, organizations can mitigate the potentially negative effects of trauma exposure by becoming vicarious trauma–informed. https://vtt.ovc.ojp.gov/