Your Mindset, Their Mental Health
“As a security professional, the very important role you play keeping people and property safe continues to be valuable during challenging times like these,” says Leumas Security Services Founder and Rent-A-Cop Reboot co-author Samuel Griffin.
“Like many other people, you may be working fewer hours because of a variety of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19,” he says. “I understand the anxiety that may cause. Try to take advantage of the personal time you gain to do things that help ease anxiety and help you be ready to get back in action when it’s time: catch up on sleep and family time, eat better, and get some exercise.”
For those of you who are working, or just getting back to a full schedule, Griffin suggests being mindful of the fact that you may encounter more people with higher levels of anxiety than you may have at any other time in your career.
“Keep your head,” says Griffin. “Do your best to be as clear as possible about the difference between someone who is acting out because they are more troubled than usual about what’s going on in the world today, and someone who may be dealing with an actual mental health issue.”
(image source: Shutterstock)
Griffin says that a person with an actual mental health issue is much more likely to:
- Talk to themselves out loud, and answer their own questions.
- Repeat awkward physical movements, such as jerking, aimless movements of the head and neck, or arms and hands.
- Wear pajamas and bathrobes outdoors during the day, especially when accompanied by any of the behaviors above as well as being unclean and unkempt.
- Have loud, uncontrollable outbursts.
- Get triggered into a quick, negative response or action when spoken to.
He suggests dealing with these individuals with:
- Patience. With the person’s initial behavior, to the best of your ability as the situation dictates, as well as with their reaction. That can help lower the possibility of some unpleasant verbal interaction.
- Conversation. It may help you buy time and help you assess the situation.
- Distance. Keep physical space between you and the person while you decide if it will need to result in any assistance from medical or law enforcement officials.
- Training. Make sure you are aware of your policies and procedures, study controversial situations where security/law enforcement encountered someone with a mental health challenge, as well as good practices in similar situations. Stay focused. When alcohol or drugs are added to the mix, the chances of the person becoming violent increase. Make sure you are trained in ways that help you be prepared.
- A “thick skin.” Let what someone says to you roll off of you like the old statement, “Water off a duck’s back.” Dealing with the public can often be challenging. People will call you names, not follow directions or instructions, and lose control for a wide variety of reasons.
“Being a security professional does require you to be fit, and sometimes requires you to carry a weapon,” Griffin says. “None of that is helpful if your mindset isn’t prepared, especially when dealing with those with mental health issues. The more you’re exposed to the public, the more chances you will have to deal with them. People skills are absolutely necessary. If you’re not a ‘people person,’ maybe you need to work in an environment such as watching a monitor in a control room.”