Mindfulness training program could be used to prevent police suicide

The Labpsitec laboratory of the University of Valencia (UV), in collaboration with the H-Policía association has put the effects of a police-specific mindfulness training programme to the test. The study, in which 40 national and local police officers have taken part, revealed a significant decrease in depression, anxiety, distress (negative stress) and burnout in the officers who conducted this training in police mindfulness. Furthermore, there have also been significant improvements to sleep quality and the emotional regulation of police officers who took part in the course.

But the most relevant piece of data for the team who created this programme - baptised as "Mindfulness aplicado al bienestar policial" (mindfulness applied to police wellbeing) - is the decrease in frequency of suicidal thoughts which, while not decisive, is sufficiently encouraging to infer that said mindfulness programme for police officers could be used to prevent police suicide, which according to specialists on the issue doubles and even triples (in the case of Guardia Civil officers) the suicide rate of the general public.

This issue has led to the Directorate General of the Police recently publishing the "Plan to promote mental health and the prevention of suicidal behavior", whose goal is to develop programmes to promote mental health linked to emotional self-regulation and the prevention of stress.

The authors of the "Mindfulness aplicado al bienestar policial" programme, national policeman Miguel ángel García and psychologist and researcher at the Labpsitec group of the UV, Jaime Navarrete, are already planning a second edition of the course in order to delve into the study of its effects to promote health and the self-care of police officers.

Mindfulness is a mental training technique to strengthen the human capability of paying attention to the current moment in a kind way with no value judgment, which decreases mental rumination and the suffering that it causes. The exponential growth in recent years of scientific studies on mindfulness and its noticeable results have pushed this method to the front line in the field of health promotion.

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