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Peer-Supported Critical Incident Stress Management

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is soliciting grant applications from nonprofit organizations to provide post-critical incident seminars and peer-supported critical incident stress management programs to law enforcement agencies and their staffs.

Law enforcement professionals are exposed to considerable daily stress and frequent critical incidents that can result in significant health issues. Critical incidents are events that are outside the normal human experience and may include shootings, severe injury, child deaths, suicides, civil unrest and others. Post-traumatic stress in law enforcement officers who respond to such incidents may often be a by-product of these events.

Law enforcement Peer Support is recognized as an effective approach to provide assistance to officers to help them address the stress and challenges of their profession. Peer Support can provide more awareness training to officers, improve access to and increase the effectiveness of existing resources, and help officers overcome their reluctance to seek help. To be effective, Peer Support should make participants feel that they are free to share their experiences and struggles among an accepting and supportive audience.