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Helping the Helpers

CMU’s clinical psychology doctoral student, Jaclyn Bowes, researches the effectiveness of a gratitude intervention program (writing down things we are grateful for) at reducing occupational stress. With the help of an operational Psychologist, Dr. David Englert, Jaclyn Bowes studies Police Department (PD) personnel from Charlotte, North Carolina. Compared to the general public, those in emergency support roles experience higher levels of distress and secondary trauma due to their work. Jaclyn examines the stress level of crime scene technicians and first responders and researches ways to help them cope. She is conducting the first study researching ways to uplift the well-being of frontline workers, particularly those in the PD. Jaclyn highlights how effective gratitude can be at improving one’s stress management and life satisfaction. In contrast, cynicism (e.g., grim or ironic humor) is linked to lower utilization of mental health services. Jaclyn examines the connection between cynicism and how open the PD workers are to intervention. She is interested in whether cynical attitudes inhibit participants from benefitting from the gratitude intervention program. The study comprises approximately 120 PD dispatchers and crime scene technicians who will be randomly assigned a series of two-week exercises to determine if the simple expressions of gratitude benefit one’s mental health. Jaclyn Bowes and her advisor Dr. Nathan Weed, are eager for the study results.

At CMU We Do Research, We Do Real World

Story by ORGS intern, Hailey Nelson

October 2020