Focusing on mental health issues affecting the community has long been a priority for Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, especially for those who come into contact with the criminal justice system. Internally, Kincaid is very focused on tending to the mental health concerns of Sheriff’s Office employees. Her agency’s revamped Peer Support Team recently earned accreditation from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Office of Emergency Medical Services.
The Sheriff’s Office Peer Support Team tends to the mental health concerns of sworn and non-sworn staff members and their families. This diverse team of deputies is led by a licensed professional counselor and is one of only 10 Critical Incident Stress Management and Peer Support teams that is accredited.
To be accredited by the state, a peer support team must, at a minimum, include a licensed clinician and peers in law enforcement, fire/EMS and/or dispatchers; training that meets OEM standards; and certifications in peer-to-peer, group and suicide prevention/postvention training. Teams must also have a 24-hour contact number, an alerting process, no fewer than quarterly meetings, standard operating procedures and team documentation.