In Marietta, Georgia, police officers now have a room to escape to when they need to decompress. That designated space is a wellness room, which is part of a new mental and emotional well-being initiative geared toward the city’s first responders.
The department’s wellness room is equipped with a massage chair, soothing sounds, low lighting and painted walls that promote relaxation.
“It also has a special beat behind the scenes that you don’t really hear, but it’s scientifically proven to lower your heart rate, your respiration and your anxiety,” Marietta PD Chief Marty Ferrell told WSBTV News.
If your department is looking to add a wellness room this year, here’s a quick overview of what a wellness room is, how your officers can benefit from using one, and steps your department can take to create its own unique and relaxing space.
1. What is a wellness room?
A wellness room is a private area designated for quiet time. Officers can use the room if they’re feeling stressed, anxious or just need to escape from the noise and fast pace of patrolling. Use this space to take time for yourself and your personal mental health needs.
2. What should be in a wellness room?
No two wellness rooms are the same. Before you start making any purchases, take the needs of your officers into consideration first.
For example, at the Wethersfield (Conn.) Police Department, every piece inside their wellness room – including a rocking recliner, recessed lighting and sound machine – was chosen to bring a sense of comfort to its officers. And the room is used nearly every day, Sgt. Jenny Rivera told WFSB.com.
At the Santa Ana (Calif.) Police Department, their wellness room operates more like a meditation room. There is subdued lighting, aromatherapy, yoga cushions, a yoga chair, a reclining massage chair and a walking treadmill. Responders can use their phones to access meditation programs, soothing music or YouTube videos.
It’s also important to note that wellness rooms can have different names, such as the Phoenix (Ariz.) Police Department’s “quiet room,” which is a place employees can escape to during stressful workdays. Here’s a peek into their quiet room:
3. How can first responders use a wellness room?
A wellness room is used differently by everyone. One officer may need a 30-minute quiet break, while another may need to relax and recharge with meditation. One isn’t better than the other. It all comes down to an officer’s unique needs in that time.
Other ways you can use a wellness room may include:
- Practicing gentle yoga
- Working on a puzzle to quiet your brain
- Sitting in a comfortable chair or on a couch to listen to music or read a book
However, there is often one rule to entering a wellness room: no working allowed. Period.
4. What are the benefits of a wellness room?
A wellness room offers a variety of benefits, including the ability to improve the physical and mental health of officers. These rooms are designed to decrease officers’ stress levels and allow them a moment to breathe and decompress. Less stress means officers can sleep better at night, their chances of developing anxiety or depression lessen, they’re able to think and make better decisions, have better reflexes, and their energy, productivity and motivation increase.
5. How can departments create a wellness room?
Creating a wellness room may seem like a daunting task, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. Does your station have an unused office? You can transform it into a wellness room without hiring a contractor or building one from scratch.
At the Vallejo (Calif.) Police Department, two officers transformed an office in dispatch into a wellness room for its officers and dispatchers. Check out the before and after photos: