strong balanced rangers (SBR)
for environmental guardians
Strong Balanced Rangers (SBR) is an action-research program adapted from the "Master Resilience Training" program created by Dr. Karen J. Reivich and Martin E. P. Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania for the American Army.
The rangers of the anti-poaching units in the African National Parks have paramilitary training to combat wildlife crime. In their fight against this type of crime, they face stressful situations, many of them violent and traumatic, including kidnappings, confrontations with firearms, and hand-to-hand fighting. From these types of circumstances, they survive with physical and psychological consequences for a lifetime.
Rangers perform their duties under harsh working conditions, such as isolation from the community and their families, lack of adequate work equipment, low remuneration, and insufficient training. Some of these conditions are typical of high-risk professions and contribute to the possible development of anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress.
The SBR program's purpose is to assess the mental health of rangers and teach them a set of competencies and skills that build resilience.
The rangers' psychological assessment will help us prevent occupational risk situations and develop specific treatment programs in case of any severe disorder streak. In the pilot study, the first group assessed consisted of 51 eco-guardians and showed that 72.55% of them suffered a psychological disorder. Of the affected eco-guards, 44.7% were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress; 18.4% suffered from anxiety disorders; 15.8% personality disorders; 13.2% depressive disorders; 2.6% substance abuse disorder, and 2.6% bipolar disorder.
When these pathologies are not adequately treated, rangers will have a progressive deterioration in all areas of their lives. If this happens, it will backfire in that we will be failing in securing the National Park and the safety of the species that inhabit it (many of which are in danger of extinction).
Thanks to this study and its shocking results, we were able to see the need to implement a permanent psychological care service in the National Parks, assisted by a psychologist and a psychiatrist to assure the rangers' pharmacological treatments.
The psychological care service, reinforced with SBR resilience training, becomes the necessary solution-oriented approach to the National Parks.
Governments, Agencies, NGOs, or private organizations that believe that prevention is a critical objective in fostering resilience to stress are encouraged to adopt the SBR resilience training. Supporting rangers' overall well-being is the ultimate goal to ensure the conservation of the National Parks.
SBR resilience training will strengthen their psychological fitness, facilitate stress management in adverse situations, increase workplace efficiency, maximize individual performance, and prevent the onset of mental disorders.
They will also be provided with the fundamentals of stress and trauma and self-applicable techniques to reduce stress-related symptoms. Likewise, they will learn how to detect stress-related disorder symptoms in themselves and in their co-workers.
SBR resilience training for environmental guardians is done in groups of 25 individuals. The training consists of 6 modules with a total duration of 83 hours for 10 days.
SBR training can be tailored to the needs of the organization.
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