The Cook County Sherriff’s Institute is a sixteen-week training program for incoming recruit correctional officers. Of this sixteen weeks, two are dedicated to understanding mental health, mental illness and how those topics relate to their work as future sworn officers.
Introduction to Mental Illness, a psychology 101 of sorts, encourages participates to understand what mental illness is, how common and how it may manifest through a variety of diagnoses, as well as current treatment available. This is important because at its root, the training encourages participants to use empathy, insight and perspective into how others live; inspiring officers to view without negative bias or stereotypes. This goal is then pushed further when the class starts to learn about stress management and personal mental health and wellness.
The idea of self-care is explored through the concepts of happiness, self-awareness and stress reductions techniques. Participants are encouraged to fully engage in the class through personal anecdotes, questions and answer, hands-on activities and tangible means.
The many benefits of giving are discussed, including increased happiness, health, social connection, gratitude and reciprocity.
The class is then asked to take it one step further. They are introduced to the American Foundation for Children with AIDS’ mission and how money raised will go directly to providing families with means to care for themselves. Students immediately respond to photos of previous classes and the goats and other livestock provided to families on the other side of the world. They are taking the theoretical concepts of giving and actively including them in their learning experience.
After the course, officers are sent updates and photos about the goats and other livestock, as they make their way to deserving families. To date, The Cook County Sherriff’s Institute has raised over $1200! Instructors plan to continue encouraging each incoming class to participate in tangibly learning the benefits of giving.
Classes 1702 and 1703