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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 which we are grateful for) at reducing occupational stress. Jaclyn Bowes, with the help of an operational Psychologist, Dr. David Englert, 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 as a result of their work. Jaclyn examines the stress level of crime scene technicians and first responders and researches ways to help them cope with the stress. She is conducting the first study researching ways to uplift the wellbeing 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 is comprised of approximately 120 PD dispatchers and crime scene technicians who will be randomly assigned a series of two-week exercises which will determine if the simple expressions of gratitude are beneficial to 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