The Center for Healthy Minds and the Madison Police Department (MPD) are launching a pilot study to better understand the impact of mindfulness-based practices on police officers’ physical and mental well-being.
The collaboration, which has been almost a year in the making, will begin in the fall and will focus on whether mindfulness-based practices can help improve officers’ abilities to manage the daily and occupational stressors from their jobs. The program will also examine officers’ ability to strengthen their attention – an indicator suspected to influence emotion regulation.
“Within their first year on the job, nine out of 10 police officers experience an acute traumatic event, and that number grows to nearly 97 percent by their third year,” says Dan Grupe, an assistant scientist at CHM who is leading the study. “In addition to navigating these stressful, on-the-job situations, officers also experience chronic stressors at the organizational level.”
Through the research, he and other scientists want to learn whether well-being practices such as mindfulness meditation can buffer officers against daily stress – in addition to acute, traumatic stressors – that contribute to physical and mental health challenges in the profession.
Police officers are at elevated risk for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disruptions, cardiovascular disease and alcohol abuse, other studies show.