COPLINE's founder Stephanie Samuels on the role head injuries play in officer mental wellness
"We are now walking the path we need to walk for true suicide prevention."
Given the nature of the job, police officers will always sustain injuries. If you make an arrest, you may encounter a resistive suspect; if you make a traffic stop, an ensuing pursuit may lead to a traffic collision. Sometimes an injury may be obvious and apparent, but some may be deceptive. Have you ever “shaken it off” after a knockdown, drag-out fight? Ever get out of a minor vehicle fender bender and walk it off? Sure you have.
In this episode of the Policing Matters podcast, sponsored by Lexipol, host Jim Dudley speaks with Stephanie Samuels, a psychotherapist who works exclusively with police officers, about her research into the role repeated head injuries play in mental health disorders in law enforcement and a probable link to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in officer suicides.
Stephanie is also the founder and director of Copline, a 24/7 hotline answered by retired LEOs to engage with callers who want to talk about anything from a bad day to a full-blown mental health crisis. Active and retired officers and their families can call the line. Call 1-800-COPLINE to access the service.
About our sponsor
This episode of the Policing Matters Podcast is brought to you by Lexipol, the experts in policy, training, wellness support and grants assistance for first responders and government leaders. To learn more, visit lexipol.com.
Top quotes from this episode
What we know is that the brain keeps score, but we haven't been keeping score."
From the findings of our survey, of the individuals who had been diagnosed with PTSD by a mental health professional, we found that over 93% of those had sustained one or more concussions, but over 80% had sustained five or more concussions. Fifty percent had sustained 15 or more."
We are now walking the path we need to walk for true suicide prevention."
Every officer who has been diagnosed with PTSD needs to have an intake with a neurologist."
About our guest
Stephanie Samuels is a psychotherapist who works exclusively with police officers. Ms. Samuels has lectured all over the country on PTSD and vicarious trauma, including undiagnosed PTSD and the fallout from departmental silence after officers are involved in critical incidents, as well as how traumatic pasts play a part in an officer's career. Ms. Samuels is part of a national research team looking into the role concussions play in the mental health of law enforcement officers and the potential connection to suicide.
Ms. Samuels began her career as one of the teens in the first focus group of Teen Line Cares, a mental health helpline for teens. Ms. Samuels understood that teens only trusted and confided in other teens. With this same concept in mind, Ms. Samuels went on to create two law enforcement officer hotlines. She is the Founder and Director of COPLINE, Inc., the first confidential national law enforcement officers hotline in the country answered by retired officers.
She is the general partner of The Counseling and Critical Incident Debriefing Center, LLC, which specializes in debriefing and long-term counseling of first responders and their families. She taught at the Monmouth County Police Academy for 16 years and has been a guest lecturer at the FBI Academy in Quantico. Ms. Samuels was hired after the Boston bombing as the Clinical Director of the Boston Police Department Peer Support Unit and co-founded the LEADER (Law Enforcement Active Duty Emergency Responder) Program at Harvard's McLean Hospital.
Ms. Samuels has co-authored "Under the Blue Shadow: Clinical and Behavioral Perspectives on Police Suicide" with Dr. John Violanti and a chapter entitled "Police Trauma: Past Exposures and Present Consequences" in the book "Managing Traumatic Stress Risk: A Proactive Approach."