I am working on a Police Chief’s Guide to Mental Illness with a colleague here in Massachusetts. Part of the project involves offering tips for career success for law enforcement officers. The guide is written to identify signs of MH involvement and add strategies for LEO’s to handle calls for service involving the mentally ill. These calls have grown in number over the recent past largely due to a desire to reduce the population of people with mental illness who are being held in county jails and state prisons. Jail diversion programs shunt cases from the criminal justice system into treatment for mental illness. In doing so, the subject with mental illness is more likely to fall off police radar and reduce the need for direct police intervention in the future.
Hardiness is a personality or cognitive style marked by increased levels of control, commitment, and challenge (Kobasa 1979; Maddi and Kobasa 1984). “Sisu” is a Finnish term related to concepts such as resilience, perseverance and hardiness. Hardiness can be learned and requires practice. “Learned resilience to stress leads to psychological hardiness rather than psychological weariness.” according to Leo F. Polizoti, Ph.D. of the Decision Institute in Worcester, MA. Dr. Polizoti teaches law enforcement officers methods of reducing stress and developing career hardiness.
High hardy individuals believe they can control or influence events and are strongly committed to activities and their interpersonal relationships and to self, in that they recognize their own distinctive values, goals, and priorities in life as described by Bartone in his 1999 publication. “Research on stress management, coping with trauma and post-traumatic growth all suggest that there can indeed be deep-seated, positive benefits to be gained from hardship. These include strengthening of character, a deeper experience of purpose and meaning, and increased resilience, as well as enhanced relationships and greater appreciation of life” in a blog by Emilia Lahti 2018.
“Sisu is a Finnish word generally meaning determination, bravery, and resilience. However, the word is widely considered to lack a proper translation into any other language. Sisu is about taking action against the odds and displaying courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity. Deciding on a course of action and then sticking to that decision against repeated failures is Sisu.” Backpacker Filth Blog 2015
People high in hardiness also tend to interpret stressful events in positive and constructive ways, construing such events as challenges and valuable learning opportunities (Bartone 1999). Hardy subjects have been described as optimists with a tendency to evaluate challenging situations in a positive manner (Cole et. al. 2004) and to label these types of situations as understandable and meaningful. This makes hardy persons more proactive, leading to the use of proactive coping behaviors. Hardiness as an important stress-resiliency resource across a wide range of domains, such as psychological well-being and physical strain, as well as performance.
Bjørn Helge Johnsen, Roar Espevik, Evelyn-Rose Saus, Sverre Sanden, Olav Kjellevold Olsen, Sigurd W. Hystad. Hardiness as a Moderator and Motivation for Operational Duties as Mediator: the Relation Between Operational Self-Efficacy, Performance Satisfaction, and Perceived Strain in a Simulated Police Training Scenario. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, , Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 331–339.
Bartone, P.T. (1999). Hardiness protects against war: Additional work is needed to evaluate the related stress in Army reserve forces. Consulting potential value of hardiness for commissioned Army Psychology Journal. 51, 72-82.
Polizotti, L. (2018) Personal Correspondence. Career reslience and hardiness. Decision Institute training curriculum.