News & Media

Functional disconnection and reconnection: an alternative strategy to stoicism in public safety personnel

Megan McElheran & Andrea M. Stelnicki March 2021

Background: North American public safety personnel (PSP; e.g., police, firefighters, paramedics) training programmes often focus on the importance of controlling emotional reactions (i.e. remaining stoic) to make sound decisions in high-stress environments. Many PSP carry avoidant coping strategies into their personal lives, however, resulting in disrupted relationships and deterioration of well-being.

Objective: We argue for an alternative perspective, functional disconnection and functional reconnection (FD/FR), that limits stoicism and avoidant coping in PSP work environments. FD/FR instead suggests that PSP can receive support and training focused on intentional and cognizant changes of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of their occupational roles; the same intention should be given to supporting reconnection when re-integrating into personal roles following the workday.

Conclusion: FD/FR strategies can be incorporated into clinical treatment, existing training programmes and embraced by organizational leadership to facilitate a necessary shift towards prioritizing PSP well-being.

Full Article March 2021