Police officers across the state are getting increased training for dealing with individuals in mental health distress. And that’s a good thing.
But what about their own behavioral health?
Last month in Long Branch, local enforcement announced a new partnership with the Monmouth Medical Center Behavioral Health Services team.
Through the Long Branch Police Department Resiliency Room, police officers who have responded to a critical incident can privately and confidentially receive psychological support from MMC’s outpatient behavioral health team.
The first of its kind in New Jersey, the Resiliency Room is a specially designed space located near the police department to promote the mental health of police officers, program officials said. The room and its many resources are designed to help officers manage and cope with the daily stress of their jobs, providing a place for them to decompress and process and share their thoughts.
The idea came from Sgt. Antonia Gonzalez of the LBPD, who helped found the program.
Gonzalez, a 25-year Long Branch Police veteran and the first woman promoted to the rank of sergeant in LBPD history, reached out to Monmouth Medical Center a year ago with her idea about creating a wellness program for her fellow officers.
Gonzalez said she understood the need from her own experience in the field and from listening to her fellow officers talk about their need for support.
Long Branch Mayor John Pallone noted that the stressful nature of police work makes these resources for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day so crucial, and expressed his thanks to Monmouth Medical Center for supporting the Resiliency Room with the hospital behavioral health resources.
Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus CEO Eric Carney expressed the hospital’s commitment to the city of Long Branch and to working with a variety of community partners to support the city in whatever it needs.
“Through this new partnership, we are so pleased to share the expertise of our amazing mental health professionals in support of the Long Branch Police, our courageous frontline partners,” he said.
“Long Branch is such a fantastic host town for our hospital, and we can never thank the city enough, particularly over the last 18 months of our COVID journey together and witnessing the incredible work of all the frontline heroes. To watch this program come together has been transformational, and I congratulate Sgt. Gonzalez, who with the teamwork of her fellow officers, made this happen.”