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First Responder Mental Health Resilience Conference October 2022

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council is proud to offer our inaugural First Responder Mental Health Resilience Conference.

Join us for this exciting virtual experience which will provide leading-edge approaches to foster mental health resilience in first responders. Every Thursday in October (6, 13, 20 & 27) 2022 from 10:00am to 2:30pm.

Each day includes a featured subject matter expert speaker and practical and applicable skills workshops specifically tailored for first responders.

Registration is now open. Click here to register. 

The conference will be on Zoom Events which works a little different than a standard Zoom meeting.
Click here for some helpful navigation hints.

Tentative Line Up 
(We are finalizing all the details)

Day 1 – Thursday October 6, 2022 10:00am to 2:15pm

10:00am – 10:15am Opening Address: Lt. Col. Tom Grady, Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office, WRHSAC

10:15am – 11:15am Featured Speaker: Dr. Stephen Porges
Title: Polyvagal Theory Applied to Mental Health

Description:
Join the conversation with Dr. Porges and a panel of local first responders to understand the Polyvagal Theory and how our nervous systems impact our responses to the environment.  By understanding the Polyvagal Theory, we can go from states of shutdown or mobilization to a state of safety and connection. We will discuss psychological stress injury, injury prevention, and the potential for healing and integration.

11:30am – 12:30pm Skills Workshop #1: Deb Dana, LCSW
Title:   Polyvagal Theory in Practice

Description:
Guided by Polyvagal Theory, we have a deep appreciation of the ways experience shapes the nervous system and of the pathways that lead to healing. With an updated map of the autonomic circuits that underlie behaviors and beliefs, we have a new understanding of the patterns of fight, flight, and shut down and can reliably move out of adaptive survival responses into the autonomically regulated state of safety that is necessary for wellbeing. In this presentation we’ll explore how to use the body’s regulating circuits to regain a sense of safety and skills to engage the nervous system’s natural pathways to regulation.

1:00pm – 2:00pm Skills Workshop #2: Stephanie d’Angelo
Title:   Be the Calm in the Storm: Polyvagal-Informed Embodied Mindfulness (PIEM)

Description:
Learn skills that increase vagal tone and help regulate the nervous system.
Reduce stress and increase wellbeing through breath and gentle movement.
Increase Somatic Intelligence through mindful movement and interoceptive awareness. Integrating polyvagal informed principles, embodied mindfulness, and self-care using trauma-informed best practices in cultivating wellbeing strategies.

DAY 2 Thursday October 13, 2022 10:00am to 2:30pm

10:00am-10:15am Opening Address: Chief Jennifer Gundersen, South Hadley Police

10:15am -11:15am Featured Speaker: Joanne Barros, LMHC, DMH and Dr. Victor Petreca.
Title: Title in development.

11:30am – 12:30pm Skills Workshop #1: Jeremy Segall, MA, RDT, LCAT
Title: Organization Well-being: Enhancing Internal & External Resilience that Supports a Culture of Workforce Wellness.

Description.:
This presentation focuses on providing an understanding of resiliency and holistic well-being as it relates to the psychosocial stressors of the workplace.  Learn to identify when coping is healthy versus unhealthy, and when additional help is necessary. Learn steps to assess and alleviate your own stress in the moment, as well as ways to support colleagues. Learn why wellness should be a strategic priority and what the benefits are. Discover how you can get involved and begin to transform the psychological safety culture of your workplace by starting from within, and understand how to be an advocate for change to hardwire resiliency across your organization.

1:15pm – 2:15pm Skills Workshop #2: RISE Kripalu, Sam Chase
Title:   Keeping the Body in Mind: Embodied Tools for Resilience

Description:
As a first responder, how you train your attention to assess your surroundings has huge consequences in critical moments where milliseconds make a difference. But we don’t often dedicate the same time and training to paying attention to what’s going on inside. Scientists call this interoception – a literal ‘sixth sense’ that attunes us to what’s happening within the body. Recent research connects the skill of interoception to our capacity for resilience, suggesting that our ability tune into what’s inside impacts our ability handle what’s going on around us. In this workshop, we’ll explore several evidence-based exercises for building interoception and sharpening your inner attention. These tools integrate easily into the rhythms of the day, so that the time you invest inside will leave you ready, responsive and resilient in the moments that matter most.

DAY 3 Thursday October 20, 2022 10:00am to 2:30pm

10:00am – 10:15am Opening Address: Bruce Arbor, Fire Services Chaplin

10:15am-11:15am Featured Speaker: Rollin McCraty, Ph.D.
Title: Maintaining your Composure in the Midst of Chaos and Confusion

Description:
This presentation will discuss a practical framework of resilience and the importance of learning and practicing energy self-regulation techniques. Practices shown to dramatically impact first responders’ ability to maintain inner poise, composure, and clarity, even in rapidly changing, complex and chaotic environments. Dr. McCraty will provide an overview of new research on the physiology of optimal performance and a measurable state called “physiological coherence” and how this optimal state increases cognitive performance, health, and well-being.

11:30am – 12:30pm Skills Workshop #1: Police Chief Jen Hart
Title:   Creating Calm in Chaos

Description:
The work we do is rewarding and meaningful, but it is also physically and emotionally taxing. Daily, we face challenging, dangerous, and draining situations. We are impacted by limited resources, uncertainty, and constant change. If unmanaged, this operational stress can diminish our performance, deplete our energy, and erode our wellbeing. As the demands of our jobs continue to increase, learning to build and sustain resilience is more vital than ever.

In this skills workshop, you will learn practical tools to manage your energy, diminish the harmful impacts of operational stress and increase your personal resilience. HeartMath’s research-based tools are designed to help you reduce energy drains and restore calm so you can maintain balance and composure, even in the face of chaos and adversity.

1:00pm – 2:30pm Skills Workshop #2:  Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Senior Vice-President and Director of Shay Moral Injury Center
Title:   Recognizing and Addressing Moral Distress and Moral Injury in First Responders

Description:
This workshop will provide information about conditions that put first responders at risk of experiencing moral distress that, when unaddressed, can intensify into moral injury. The workshop will cover the relationship between them and how to recognize them, as well as strategies that support recovery from them. It will include a demonstration of an online, small group, peer-facilitated program for first responders offered by Volunteers of America, Resilience Strength Time (VOA|ReST), designed to mitigate moral distress and forestall or lessen the intensity of moral injury.

DAY 4 Thursday October 27, 2022, 10:00am to 2:00pm

10:00am – 10:15am Opening Address: Chief Michael Wynn, Pittsfield Police Department

10:15am -11:15am Featured Speaker: Tom Greenhalph
Title:   Peer Support and Emerging Sciences: Blending the New with the Traditional for Enhanced Wellness and Resiliency

Description:
Peer support has existed for decades. Research over that time has shown it to be very useful in helping with life challenges. Emerging sciences such as neuroplasticity show how the brain can change in ways once not thought possible. In this presentation we will explore some of these emerging sciences and how they relate and can be integrated into peer support, with a goal of enhancing wellness and resiliency

11:30am – 12:30pm Skills Workshop #1:  Tom Greenhalph
Title:  Enhancing My Personal and Professional Skills for Enhanced Wellness and Resiliency

Description
Very often caretakers spend all their time taking care of others, often at the expense of themselves. “I don’t have time for that” is often heard when someone is asked what they do for themselves. Not recharging their personal battery, caretakers often pay a significant price in terms of their own health, wellness and resiliency, but also deliver services to others that may not be at a level they perceive it to be.

Attendees of this workshop will explore a self-reflection and evaluation as to where they may stand in terms of how well they are doing in terms of self-care, suggestions for improvement, and tools they can carry forward to those that they serve.

1:00pm – 2:00pm Skills Workshop #2: Robin Carnes
Title: Healthy Sleep: Your #1 Resilience Skill

Description:
At a time when more people than ever suffer with sleep issues, the latest science reveals just how essential quality sleep is for every aspect of our mental and physical health. First Responders face elevated risks for sleep problems due to the nature of the jobs they do in service to their communities.

In this workshop you will: be briefed on the latest findings on the essential functions of sleep, learn the underlying cause of most common sleep dysfunctions, and learn how to address common sleep problems through simple lifestyle changes and mind-body practices.

The heart of the workshop will be experiencing a variety of evidence-based practices to support and enhance your sleep, including a guided iRest meditation designed specifically for sleep. Participants will come away with practical materials and recorded practices to improve this essential function of human life.