New NAMI Cope Mental Health Program to Support California Police Officers

We are excited to share news that we’re working with the State of California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) on a training program to provide police officers with mental health support.

NAMI COPE is a resilience-building peer support program designed specifically for law enforcement, modeled on the NAMI Connection support group, a peer-led, 90-minute, weekly confidential support group for those experiencing mental health challenges. We will launch the program this year with the University of California, Davis (UCD) Police Department (PD) and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) PD.

“With rising suicide rates for police officers and nearly 500 Californians killed in officer-involved shootings (OISs) between 2016 and the present, the time is now to provide more support for law enforcement to protect their ranks and the general public,” said Jessica Cruz, our NAMI California CEO. “Studies show that stress impairs a person’s ability to regulate emotions and behaviors, and we know that the situational stress that law enforcement agents face regularly can have devastating effects on mental health. We are pleased to be working with law enforcement to create a peer support system to help officers.”

We will begin training officers this year, with each receiving an estimated 8 hours of instruction. Plans include:

  • Designing a law enforcement-specific support group, NAMI COPE, in a culturally responsive way for police officers, and peer law enforcement facilitators.
  • Rolling out one statewide NAMI COPE training for police department representatives to coincide with NAMI California’s annual conference in Sacramento on June 2-3, 2020. Officers and police departments across the state are being invited, through such partners as the California Crisis Intervention Training Association and the California State Sheriffs’ Association.
  • Creating a NAMI COPE toolkit and distributing it to trained peers. This blueprint will have vetted resources and guidance to facilitate the launch of new wellness programs.

Our COPE team includes our Cruz and Briana Vargas from our staff, as well as BART’S Deputy Chief Jeffrey Jennings in Professional Standards and Training and UCD’s head of training. There is also a COPE Advisory Committee, which includes NAMI CA Board members as chairs: Armando Sandoval, CIT Coordinator, a Community Outreach Liaison, BART PD; and Chief Joseph Farrow, UCI PD; a CA State Sheriffs’ Association representative will also be recruited.