Western Australian Homicide Detective, Evan Jackson achieved a Diploma of Leadership & Management in recognition of his experience. In the following story Evan discusses his 12-year policing career, traumatic experiences and the healing power of creativity. Evan was awarded a Churchill Education Police & First Responders Scholarship, in acknowledgement of the charity he founded to help other first responders to cope with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Evan’s Career Journey
Evan was drawn to the police force as a teenager after losing his cousin to the effects of drug addiction after she had been sexually assaulted at an early age.
This tragedy became the catalyst for his desire to help and serve others.
Dealing with all the challenges of policing, which are often the worst of our society, Evan felt that whilst the police spent a large amount of time ensuring their physical safety with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) there is often a lack of preventative and proactive wellbeing measures.
This is slowly changing, but there is still a reluctance for first responders to show signs of weakness and admit that they are struggling.
“This generally stems from the driving need to be the ‘strong and calm fixer’ in stressful situations, however this suppression of emotions is taking its toll on so many,” he said.
The Healing Power of Creativity & Birth of a Cause
After a challenging time during the pandemic and haunted by a suicide he had attended of an 18-year-old boy, Evan turned to drawing and painting as a way of expressing himself.
He found that he felt calmer and more serene through processing his traumatic memories with creativity.
It was the act of making art that allowed him to feel a sense of peace.
Evan then went down the rabbit hole of researching how the creative process has an impact on the self-regulation of our stress response. Whether as an individual or within a group, the research proved a correlation between art and wellbeing.
Examples like a study published in The Journal of Health Psychology found that creative expression can lower cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010).
Likewise, a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that creating art or music can lead to an increase in positive emotions, ability to cope with negative emotions and increase overall sense of wellbeing and resilience. Lomas, T., et al. (2017).
Inspired by his own experience and research, Evan and some amazing volunteers set up Creative Wellness for First Responders, a charity helping others to manage workplace PTSD, anxiety, and depression through the creative process.
Recognising Great Work
Based on his service and charity, Evan was awarded a Churchill Education Police and First Responders Scholarship.
“This is life changing for me! Thank you so much! I really do believe this will go a long way for so many. It’s such a privilege to be acknowledged in this way,” he said.
Evan chose to put his scholarship towards BSB50420 Diploma of Leadership and Management to assist him to grow in his charity work.
Evan was able to achieve this based on his experience through the process of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
If you would like to find out what qualifications you are eligible for, you can Apply Here for a Free Qualification Appraisal and initial chat with one of our talented Skills Recognition Advisors.
Support and Validation
After rolling out a couple of trial events, Evan was supported by the WA Police Chief Psychologist, Dr Janelle Hawes, who said she loved what he was doing.
Even better, was the support of Professor David Lawrence and Senior Researcher Wavne Rikkers, from Curtin University in Western Australia who conducted an evaluation of the outcomes of the program.
The research demonstrated an effectiveness of over 90% and included the following recommendation:
“The Creative Wellness program should continue and be given the opportunity to develop to a level where it can be made available to staff across the entire organisation, and potentially other first responder organisations in Western Australia.”
Evan believes it is the shared experience that breaks down the barriers and provides a space for the healing to start.
“Conversations flow when our minds are doing something creative,” Evan shared. “We open up when we are together, working on a shared project, and as a guy, this is often one of the times we feel safe enough to truly talk,” he added.
Building on the Mission
Spurred on by great feedback his charity has received, Evan is looking to expand their reach and increase the numbers they can help.
Please reach out to Evan here if you are in Western Australia and have some event or project management skills and you are looking to get involved in something that will not only help those first responders who are suffering, but also their families who often see the hidden side of PTSD.
Thank you Evan, for what you are doing to help so many, it truly is inspiring!