What is your role with COAST?
I am a Police Officer on the COAST London team, working full time alongside an assigned mental health practitioner.
Tell us about your career – how long you have been in your profession and/or with your current organization?
I have been with LPS for three and a half years. I have experience working in social services roles, supporting individuals impacted by trauma for 10 years prior to changing careers to policing. About a year after working as a frontline officer, I was chosen to be a part of our Peer Support team at the LPS. Through my prior social services career and my time on the Peer Support team, I’ve had incredible training opportunities and the honour of walking alongside folks who may be struggling.
What interested you about working on the COAST team?
As soon as I heard about the COAST model coming to London, I expressed interest to my supervisors. With both my social services career and now as an officer, the work we do is reactive and often feels like there is never enough time to have significant impact.
The COAST model is designed to be proactive approach to helping those in our community. I strongly believe we can have greater impact in someone’s life if we meet them and provide support earlier on, before the crisis completely takes over. This role is a beautiful blend of my skills and experience where I can most effectively serve this community.
What benefits do you hope this program will provide to the community and to vulnerable populations?
I hope this program provides a more trauma informed and holistic approach to vulnerable populations. Already in the short time we have been out in the community, I have seen such positive impacts of a subdued, less threatening uniform, a softer more trauma informed approach and effective client based solutions. While this team is still small in size and limited with how many people we can support, we have all taken the approach that taking a bit more time with individuals to increase supports and explore unique solutions to problems will have tremendous impacts for our vulnerable populations.
What do you do to support your own mental health and wellness?
Supporting one’s own mental health and wellness is so important to everyone on the team as they all have huge hearts and it’s easy to take work home with you.
I work hard to use consistent healthy strategies in my life to stay balanced. These include regular exercise, eating healthy, participating in a faith community, spending time with my kids just playing and being silly, gardening and yoga.
Your mental health is like a garden and if you ignore it the weeds take over and it’s much harder to care for. For me all the strategies above help me keep my mental health in check.