Mental Health Awareness Month with The Innocent Justice Foundation
During a trip to Yellowstone with her family, Beth Medina, the CEO of The Innocent Justice Foundation was enjoying a view of the waterfalls, when a gentleman approached her and commented on her t-shirt. He said, “that is a great organization, it saves lives”. Beth told him who she was, and he went on to explain how he was a retired Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Investigator, and he had taken a SHIFT workshop and sessions at conferences years prior. He expressed how grateful he was for the support provided through our training and how it really helped him in his career and especially helped him recognize how his professional life impacts his family. The work The Innocent Justice Foundation does is vital, and this is just one example of how our support touches the lives of others. From disparate parts of the country on a mountaintop in Wyoming, our support for the brave men and women of ICAC is recognized and appreciated.
The Innocent Justice Foundation (TIJF) has provided mental health and wellness programming focusing on vicarious trauma mitigation to support Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Teams and their affiliates across the country since 2009 through Supporting Heroes in Mental Health Foundational Training (SHIFT). SHIFT was one of the first Federally funded programs to focus on officer wellness and vicarious trauma mitigation in the country and has served over 30,000 heroes since its inception.
Victim serving work takes an emotional toll, because exposure to violent materials and events, or victim stories is a requirement of most first responder and health and human service professions. Vicarious trauma can be catastrophic, resulting in depression, burn-out, and sometimes suicide. Psycho-educational programs are crucial in helping exposed individuals learn how to recognize vicarious trauma and cope with problems before they become severe or permanent.
The organizations newest program, Helping Advocates Rebound from Trauma (HART) was developed in 2019 and launched as a virtual training course during the COVID crisis in 2020, with grant support from the Motorola Solutions Foundation. This program provides training in mitigating secondary trauma experienced by those working in professions which regularly expose them to the trauma of others. HART has trained trafficking survivor advocates, law enforcement, EMT’s, child and victim advocates, and crisis hotline workers both locally and nationally. The program is offered in-person and virtually.
“Our communities are stronger and safer when those who have the arduous jobs of saving and caring for us are supported with tools and techniques to mitigate vicarious trauma.” – Beth Media, CEO of The Innocent Justice Foundation
Many of the symptoms people experience from exposure to the trauma of others, are simply the brain and body reacting to something that needs to be addressed. TIJF works to educate community heroes to both understand and respond to those symptoms with tools and techniques to help them get through the effects of vicarious trauma and to understand what they are experiencing is normal; an autonomic safety response. This is how the brain and body functions, and they can do something about it.
Our goal is to keep HART trainings accessible and free to support heroes across the country, because when we support heroes, they can save more children and be more effective in supporting communities. We want the San Diego County community to know we are here, and we are sharing what we do by offering several free trainings for Mental Health Awareness Month. Law enforcement, child and victim advocates, social workers, first responders and others who can benefit from learning to mitigate the effects of vicarious trauma in their professions, are encouraged to participate.
The organization is fortunate to have its first sponsor for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month programming, After-Tax Wealth Management. “Here at After-Tax Wealth Management, having worked with the City of San Diego firefighters for so many years, we want to take care of those who take such great care of us all.” – Nathan Medina, Founder/Owner
Law enforcement, first-responders, and advocates of all kinds have had a tough couple of years, the emotional toll has been heavy. If you work in a victim serving profession please join us for these free programs. For more information and to register, use the links below:
May 2 Vicarious Trauma as Moral Injury – 1.5-hour webinar
May 3 An Introduction to HART – 1.5-hour virtual training
May 9 Task Force Topics: What We’ve Learned about Vicarious Trauma – Facebook Live
May 12 Vicarious Trauma Mitigation Training – full-day in-person, Cardiff, CA
May 13 Vicarious Trauma Mitigation Training – full day in-person, Encinitas, CA
May 18 HART Part 2 – 3-hour virtual training for those who have already taken HART Part 1
May 26 Hope & Optimism: The Wonder Twins – 1.5-hour webinar