First Responder Mental Health and Emotional Wellness During a Pandemic

Staying POSITIVE, During NEGATIVE Times

Officer wellness is often overlooked during a pandemic, when the job of the Officer is to care for the wellness of others.

During these difficult and somewhat negative times, staying positive can be a challenge for us all. It’s important to take care for your agency, your officers, and yourself, by staying educated about the risks, the symptoms and the precautions. At the same time, while surrounded by uncertainty, standing on positive ground no matter the onslaught of negativity, can be easier said than done. Start here…


WORRY brings more to Worry about

As we get older and look back, many of us will think, “I wish I’d worried less.” After all, there’s a cost to worry, like… added tension, poor sleep, irritability, fatigue, lack of concentration, and general unhappiness. If you think about it, most of what we worry about never happens.

Now you might be thinking, “This is all well and good, but how am I supposed to worry less?”


Let’s be honest: It’s really hard to stop worrying, so it helps to have multiple tools to assist us with the process. Here are  THREE steps to climb UP from worry

  1. Admit to yourself that you feel worry, by stating, “I feel worry about…”
  2. Realize that you likely don’t have control of what you are worried about, and that you need to release it.
  3. Find a positive thought to replace the worry with. Start with the statement below


Everyone has the ability to worry more, or worry less. You can CHOOSE to worry about the things you do not have control of, or you can work at releasing the worry.


ANGER brings more to be Angry about

Acting out on anger makes it easier to do so again in the future, leading to a never-ending cycle. It’s best to neither bottle them up or let our emotions overflow, but to analyze them and understand the thinking behind anger.

Do you know co-workers that show up to work angry, are always blaming others for their mistakes, continuously complaining about everything? We all handle stress differently. And whether it’s personal or work stress, acknowledging the stress is the first step.


We often say in class, that for many officers… “Living at the bottom of the RITE Ladder is easier for them.” Once you know you are there, you can choose to change your emotion. NO ONE can make us feel Angry or Worried, we CHOOSE to feel those emotions.

It’s easier for some to live in Worry, Blame, and Anger. You can learn to look UP and start climbing your Emotional Ladder… Wherever you are, take just one step up.

clack and swooshThat means we can choose again, and ‘CLACK – CLACK – CLACK’ back up to a higher rung on the Emotional Wellness Ladder.

Watch Sgt. Bryant talk about the ‘Clack and Swoosh’ and how easy it is to CLACK back up the Ladder, when you fall down.



GRATITUDE, even in Pandemic Times

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in early March 2020 that the virus was now at a Pandemic stage across the world. But what exactly does that mean to those on the front line?

We’ve heard the terms, but what is the difference between an Outbreak, an Epidemic, and a Pandemic?

  • AN OUTBREAK is a greater-than-anticipated increase in the number of disease cases. I.e.: when more people on the eastern side of the U.S. get the flu than usual, it’s called aflu OUTBREAK. If it’s not quickly controlled, an outbreak can become an EPIDEMIC


  • AN EPIDEMIC is a disease that affects a large number of people within a community, population, or region.


  • A PANDEMIC is an epidemic that’s spread over multiple countries or continents… which is what we have with COVID-19.

A simple way to know the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic is to remember the “P” in pandemic, which means a pandemic has a passport. A pandemic is an epidemic that travels.


GRATITUDE brings more to be Grateful about

Starting with positive daily thoughts in your own life, is a powerful tool towards officer wellness. Thoughts of GRATITUDE can almost always uplift the downward thoughts and reactions people are having in your community.


Alabama DOCT with Randy of RITE Academy
Alabama DOC with Randy of RITE Academy

YOU have a choice as to where you want to live on your OWN Emotional Wellness Ladder, because you OWN your emotions. Look around you for all the things you can be Grateful for. We all have the ability to look for the good in everything.


The other day, while going for a long walk, (the gym was closed due to COVID-19), I asked myself what AM I GRATIFUL FOR? I was amazed how I was able to see so much more, once I began rattling all the little things I was grateful for.


When you choose to live at the TOP OF YOUR LADDER, you will be able to see all the wonderful things life has to offer… Even during pandemic times.



5 Ways to Strengthen Emotional Health and Wellness

  1. Start a 21-Day Journal – Every morning, write (3) things you are GRATEFUL for, and in the evening write (3) people you went out of your way to THANK
  2. Find ways to CLIMB to the TOP OF YOUR LADDER – 51% is the Tipping point
  3. Don’t let others pull you down your ladder – “Crab Bucket Mentality”
  4. Recognize your ‘Hot Buttons’ and what makes you mad – Learn to release it
  5. Take (3) deep breaths every hour and ask yourself “How can I climb UP?”


Notice where you are on the Emotional Wellness Ladder. Take time to strengthen your Emotional Wellness, as that can be the lifeline you need to make it through these pandemic times.

Iowa State UPD_RITE Clack n Swoosh
Iowa State UPD_RITE Clack n Swoosh

When you notice you’re feeling Angry, or Frustrated, or Worried…

  • Put your hands on a pretend LADDER
  • Say, “Clack, clack, clack”
  • Start ‘air’ climbing back up towards the top




Austin police officer, infected with COVID-19, shares story of recovery

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An officer with the Austin Police Department who was infected with COVID-19 has recovered and went back to work Friday. –  Read more


A ray of hope for NYPD, as 600+ officers return to duty after recovering from COVID-19

The department broke on April 10 a 27-day streak of increased absences resulting from officers and staff members contracting COVID-19. Shea called it a “light at the end of the tunnel,” expressing pride and relief that more than 600 uniformed members who had tested positive for the virus — and had recovered — were back on the job Friday. Read more


Battle Creek Police Department works to reduce mental strain during pandemic

“I think what it’s doing is talking a toll on the people that are doing all they already had to do, go to those dangerous calls and deal with all the stress and now they have to fight an invisible enemy,” said Hultink. Read more



thank you

RITE Academy, wants to thank all the hard-working public safety professionals working during the COV-19 Crisis

RITE Academy has provided Officer Emotional Wellness Training to over 500 public service agencies over the last 5 years. We will continue to bring Officer Wellness classes around the county, as are here to help.