We Never Talk About this Huge Issue in Montana; It’s Time For Change
Taboo Topics in The Treasure State
In Montana, it's taboo to talk about certain things...like mental health. But why? People are in complete denial that our brains need some major TLC. This is important for everyone, especially our first responders and police force. They see the scariest stuff upon arrival to a scene, where we only see these graphic images either in movies, or through the filter of a camera.
Imagine being the first to see dead bodies, getting shot, fires, crashes. Our police and first responders see this stuff all the time. That's why I had Sergeant Stovall of Billing PD on the Morning Mix to talk about mental health resources for our first responders.
PTSD Diagnosis and Treatments
This conversation is in the wake of the story I did on state troopers not having medical leave to treat PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder.)
Sgt. Stovall is on a mission to lessen the stigma about this exact topic and get more resources to help. I invited him up to the 23rd floor of the Double tree Hotel Monday morning to chat.
Sgt. Stovall said something profound while on the show,
"We started our own non-profit Montana Peer Support Network. We (Billings PD) partnered with Great Falls PD and Montana Highway Patrol and are working with the state and throughout the country to offer support and have resources for officers who are struggling with things like PTSD and substance abuse. Just any of the things this job can trigger and the tragedies we see while in this job."
Billings Police Department and Mental Health
Stovall mentions the band-aid cure of "drinking whiskey and duct tape" to suppress heavy emotions that leads to a life of difficulty. Divorce rates run rampant in first responders and police because the job becomes so taxing on their lives, their marriages seem to fail. The suicide rates for first responders and police are through the roof, and this means we need to talk about it.
No more denying this huge mental health issue in the state of Montana.
It's tough to talk about feelings and emotions.
No one, and I mean NO ONE wants to seem vulnerable when talking about these heavy topics. That's why SGT Stovall is very proud (as he should be) to help lessen the stigma on asking for help, especially with his direct team in the Billings PD.
It starts with a 4 hour class with education on mental health and what stress does to a human body over time.
Sergeant Stovall mentions something I'm familiar with: Box Breathing.
You inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for another 4 seconds. It's a tool I highly recommend for anyone.
Listen to the full the conversation to hear about these amazing resources that are helping our Police men and women, first responders, and highway patrol.