St. Petersburg College (SPC) unveiled a groundbreaking initiative this week — the new Applied Mental Health Certificate for Law Enforcement program.
The program equips law enforcement professionals and first responders with essential tools to navigate mental health issues within the community while managing the inherent stressors of their roles.
The launch event for the program on Aug. 14 featured insights from Jonathan Vazquez, president of the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association, an experienced officer with 15 years of service and an U.S. Army veteran. Vazquez provided valuable perspectives on the mental health challenges faced by law enforcement professionals and first responders.
“This program marks a significant step in making sure people facing mental health challenges get the understanding and assistance they deserve,” said Vazquez. “It will help in forging stronger connections for law enforcement professionals and first responders with the communities they serve.”
The program will cover a wide range of topics, including mental health sensitivity and practical application of psychological concepts. Participants will gain insights and tools to support community members facing mental health challenges, while they also find ways to build their own personal resilience.
“The Applied Mental Health Certificate for Law Enforcement program exemplifies SPC’s commitment to holistic community well-being,” SPC President Tonjua Williams said. “By equipping law enforcement and first responders with knowledge and skills, we can help create a safer and more empathetic environment in the community.”
Florida State Rep. Linda Chaney was among the attendees at the event. Chaney has been a significant supporter of the new program and awarded the college nearly $387,000 from the 2023 Florida Legislature to help fund it.
This article originally appeared here.