A six-month study released today has shown that there is ‘strong evidence’ that using online mindfulness tools can help police officers and staff improve their sense of wellbeing.

The randomised control trial, carried out by the College of Policing, split police officers and staff into three groups – those who used Mindfit Cop, those who used a different mindfulness app and website and a final group made up of those who did not use either product.

Involving more than 1,300 officers and staff, it found that those using the two mindfulness products had improved average performance in their job, personal resilience and wellbeing in comparison to the group who were not using either product.

The result was the creation of a free online mindfulness package, called ‘Mindfit Cop’, which officers and staff can complete in half-hour sessions over eight weeks.

The online training is now freely available via Oscar Kilo and has been developed by Detective Inspector Jenni McIntyre-Smith from Bedfordshire Police and leading UK mindfulness trainer Michael Chaskalson.

What do we mean by mindfulness?

Mindfulness has received widespread publicity as a way to improve individual wellbeing. The Mindfulness Initiative describes mindfulness as:

“paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment in the mind, body and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness.”

Because this is such a simple idea, people often have misconceptions about mindfulness. One of the challenges of training police officers and staff in mindfulness is overcoming any initial resistance to pre-conceived ideas of what ‘people who are mindful’ look like, or do.

Detective Inspector Jenni McIntyre-Smith from Bedfordshire Police, developed the Mindfit Cop training as both a serving officer and a qualified mindfulness trainer. She helped us work on the message that mindfulness training is like any other form of strength training; training your mind to be fit and resilient for the job. 

DI McIntyre-Smith said, “Policing is hugely demanding. As officers and staff, we frequently experience things and are exposed to traumas that most people will never experience. Mindfulness training offers us tools to help deal with these pressures and with the reality of Policing today.

“My own personal experience was that I came back from maternity leave to promotion to Detective Inspector, with a brand new rank and unit. I found myself in charge of three high-risk units and had two large policing operations, I was also a new mum and was trying to do my best in all my roles: mum, partner, leader.

“When I was at work, my head was at home and when I was at home, my head was at work, I wasn’t giving anyone the attention that they deserved and I felt frustrated and unfocused.

“I happened upon Mindfulness. I didn’t know anything about it but someone suggested that it may be a good idea. I signed myself up for the course and to be honest, in the first few weeks I really didn’t get it, but I persevered.

“After about week five or six I began to really feel the benefits. I suddenly realised that when I was at work, I was at work and when I was at home, I was at home. I noticed that my focus and productivity increased and I felt I was better able to respond to situations.

This led me to further explore the science behind Mindfulness and I found it fascinating. I could see the are clear benefits for Policing.”

If you want to know more about the study, you can download it using the button below or visit the ‘What Works’ website within the College of Policing.