The Star Wellness Model is a visual depiction of the battle for your “wellness.” It was developed with the individual officer in mind but can be applied to the profession as a whole. What makes this model unique is that it is meant to serve as a visual model that encourages officers to feel the outward push of the internal factors (Mind, Body and Spirit) and the inward push of the external factors, such as the media and unrealistic expectations.
I recently heard a noted psychologist say that “the law enforcement profession TAKES away our wellness.” I immediately thought, “this profession is tough, but OUR wellness is only taken away if we let it get taken away.” In fact, the majority of the time, WE give our wellness away, via the lack of personal and departmental commitment to maintaining and/or enhancing our internal factors.
Unfortunately, most officers, me included, have to “suffer” to the point where we see the need or have to make a change just to survive. In this case, “survive” means to live (not commit suicide). If you look at the current state of the “law enforcement profession,” have we suffered enough to make significant changes when it comes to addressing our wellness from a personal, departmental and profession standpoint? In my 25+ years in law enforcement, I have seen a lot of personal and professional suffering, but nothing like we are currently experiencing. If the current state of affairs is not enough to spark a profession-wide change in how OUR wellness is addressed, I do not know what is?
If you give away your wellness, what is theoretically under the word “wellness” in the center circle? “Hopelessness.” Hopelessness is the feeling that comes with being physically, mentally and spiritually empty. Once I reached this state, I was unable to see anything, but my own suffering. I did not have the ability to see anything, other than the black hole of despair. At this point, there was no light at the end of the tunnel!
I share this experience, with the hope that I can prevent at least one person from having to experience a similar situation and I want officers to know that they have to work on maintaining and/or enhancing their wellness every day if they hope to survive or even better yet, flourish.
I will close with a quote from the World Health Organization:
“Wellness is a process, a journey, not a destination. Every day YOU make decisions to become “more well” or “less well.” Wellness seeks more than the absence of illness; it searches for new levels of excellence, whether it be mentally, physically, or spiritually.”
Christopher O. Davis
Asst. Chief of Police (Retired – Fayetteville, NC)