Self Care In the Criminal Justice Field: Pushing for Support

“Dark humor- it’s just how we cope”.


If you were to mention the topic of “self-care” to a room full of varying Criminal Justice professionals, chances are you will be laughed at. Immediately, and not necessarily openly, many would cite their coping skills and self-care methods as dark humor, drinking, and a lack of steady relationships and it would be welcomed and just considered to be part of the “norm”. Self-care certainly has not been made a top priority in several areas of the Criminal Justice field such as within law enforcement, corrections, and even dispatch.

While this course has been aimed at better understanding forensic psychology, it has also given students the opportunity to take on and recognize the topic of self-care, hopefully instilling its importance in the long run. We know how deeply trauma can affect humans, and we often are taught to look for the signs in the people we work with. What isn’t emphasized, however, is how to recognize the residual effects of the trauma we see and work within our lives. That is why self-care is so important! What is self-care, anyway? Well, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care is “…taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health” (NIMH, 2022). Some ways to achieve self-care include exercising, getting enough sleep, engaging in positive activities that promote deeper connections, and more. One of the biggest steps to self-care is recognizing the need for it and actively making the choice to pursue it! By making self-care and your mental health a priority, we hope to see less burnout and fewer people actively struggling, which then impacts their work, personal lives and so much more. 




Please see some of the below links for resources on mental health and self care.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Caring for your mental health. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from

Self-Care for Justice Professionals


Megan Downing


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  1. Hi Megan! I really liked your blog post and thought it covered such an important topic. The self-care discussion made me think about what I consider to be my “self-care” and when I really need it most. There is no doubt that those who work in the criminal justice field have heavy jobs. I believe developing certain coping skills may seem normal to those in the field, however as you mentioned, it is important to notice the effects of trauma in our lives. Self-care is essential for anyone, especially those working in such a demanding career.

  2. Hi, Megan –
    This is such an important topic!! I find that we are all so quick to take care of the people who “need it more than we do.” Our kids, partners, friends, parents – we are able to recognize the vulnerability to overwork, under-appreciation and basic stress in others, but we refuse to see it in ourselves. Maybe it is ego, maybe martyrdom, but in either case, we want to plow through. But self-care is appropriate for everyone and we need to perform it without judgment, without even thought. Because if it becomes a routine, automatic task (say, making sure to go to the gym, listening to music, singing in the shower (I said without judgment!!!)), then we do not have to worry about analyzing our perceived weaknesses, it would just be ticking off an item on our checklists. Any way it can get done, it should get done.
    Thanks for the post (and the reminder!!),

  3. Hi Megan,

    Working in the field of criminal justice we see and hear so many awful stories that there is no possible way we cannot be impacted. We continue to try to help others but all too many times put ourselves last, if we even think of ourselves at all. As someone very wise once said to me, if I am no good, how can I be any good to help someone else? That really stuck in my head and I try to bear it in mind as much as possible regarding myself; and yet I have no problem passing these words of wisdom on to others. We have to learn to make time for our own well-being because burnout is an all-to-real possibility.

    Excellent topic!


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