June 1, 2021

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Probation Officer Health & Wellness

 
Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement, Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for juvenile and adult probation officers. Today I’d like to offer some suggestions to help improve officer wellness.

The work of probation officers is uniquely taxing in its own right. This is due in part to unpredictable working conditions, high caseloads, complex client needs, and high staff turnover.

How probation officers do their jobs has seen a paradigm shift in the last ten to fifteen years. Probation has gone from surveillance and enforcement, to an evidence-based supervision model. Probation officers are now required to be both a law enforcement officer and a social worker, and have to change hats on a moment’s notice.

Probation officers are tasked with ever-increasing caseload sizes. Not to mention, the multiple and complex expectations agencies have for their employees. To make matters worse, many agencies are often underfunded and understaffed.

The work of probation officers is uniquely taxing in its own right. This is due in part to unpredictable working conditions, high caseloads, complex client needs, and high staff turnover.

Because of these issues, probation officers may experience acute and chronic stress. With many high-risk, high-needs clients served by probation today, officers may even be exposed to extreme or critical incidents. The media has reported on a number of probation officer-involved shootings in recent years.

So, with all of these stress factors affecting probation officers today, what can you do to promote officer wellness and develop a healthy work-life balance? That’s easy.

First, do your best to leave work at work. Use your commute home to practice mindful breathing. Set the stage for a peaceful end to your day. If you need help with this, check out Cordico.com for ideas on mindfulness.

Second, get out and exercise. While going to the gym isn’t always an option with probation officers’ schedules, you can start by simply taking a walk three or four days a week.

Third, eat healthy, regular meals. And for goodness sake, get enough sleep. Failing to fuel our bodies and get rest when needed can trigger several serious health problems.

Finally, spend more time with your family, non-law enforcement friends, and loved ones. This equates to less time thinking and talking about work and more time relaxing and giving your body and mind the break it needs. And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

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