Françoise Mathieu, an expert in high-stress workplaces and author of The Compassion Fatigue Workbook, will share resilience techniques with a Lorain County audience of first responders and crisis professionals at a full-day event on December 16 at the Lorain County Community College Spitzer Center.
“Safety forces are trained to help those in crisis, but often lack the training and resources to help themselves cope with the tragedy and trauma experienced on the job. First responders witness death, destruction, and horrors that most people can’t even imagine,” says Elyria Police Lt. Deena Baker, a member of a partnership of mental health and law enforcement personnel.
Already at full capacity, the “Resilience in Trauma-Exposed Workplaces” event is attracting professionals from multiple Lorain County law enforcement and safety departments, mental health and counseling agencies, non-profits, medical and health facilities, and government agencies.
Baker notes the importance of crisis professionals assessing their own reactions to trauma so that they are not overwhelmed by the stresses of the job. She also says professional peers should know and notice signs of distress in their colleagues, and respond with positive support.
“It’s a matter of ‘help yourself and your fellow responder, so you can help others,’” says the 20-year veteran of the Elyria police force.
Mathieu, Co-Executive Director of TEND Academy in Ontario, Canada, was invited to speak by the Lorain County Board of Mental Health (LCBMH) in response to a request from the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) partnership.
More than 200 local law enforcement personnel from 15 different departments have received crisis intervention training over the last 14 years.
“The collaboration of police and mental health service providers has become critical to appropriately serving the needs of individuals experiencing mental health crises. CIT training is a collaborative approach to safely and effectively address the needs of persons with mental illnesses, link them to appropriate services, and divert them from the criminal justice system if appropriate,” says Holly Cundiff, LCBMH Forensic and Special Projects Coordinator. “We need to be just as dedicated to the wellness and resilience of the police officers, medical professionals, social workers, and other professionals who see and experience trauma in people’s lives every day.”
Mathieu is a Registered Psychotherapist in the province of Ontario and a compassion fatigue specialist. Her experience stems from 20 years as a crisis counsellor, working in community mental health, emergency and high trauma-exposed settings such as the military and law enforcement. She is co-executive director of TEND, whose aim is to offer consulting and training to helping professionals on topics related to self-care, burnout, compassion fatigue, and trauma. Since 2001, Mathieu has given hundreds of seminars on compassion fatigue and self-care across North America to tens of thousands of helping professionals in the fields of health care, social services, child welfare, law enforcement, behavioral health, criminal justice, and many others.
The event is sponsored by the Nord Family Foundation.