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(Photo: Michael Förtsch / Unsplash)
The Seattle Police Department is testing a brain stimulation device to see if it has a positive effect on employees’ mental well-being.

The device is part of a larger effort to promote well-being throughout the organization, as well as “normalize access to self-care”, According to of Lauren Atterley, SPD Director of Performance Analysis and Research. While the SPD has historically sought to protect employees’ mental health through peer support, the Atherly team is looking for less traditional remedies that can also help reduce the effects of work-related stressors.

Get on the Fisher Wallace stimulant, which New York-based Fisher Wallace Labs says helps reduce symptoms in those with depression, anxiety or insomnia. The Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation Device (CES) is in the form of a headband that users wear during daily 20-minute treatment sessions. It is said that most users see a reduction in symptoms during the first week of use, but real relief can take two to four weeks to achieve.

Fisher Wallace says the headband stimulates the brain to produce mood-enhancing chemicals such as serotonin, which is often lacking for those with depression and other mood disorders. It also emits alpha waves to help soothe the user’s body. Fisher Wallace’s website he says the headband helps lower cortisol (known as the ‘stress hormone’), but does not specify how.

(Photo: Fisher Wallace Labs)

Up to 200 SPD staff will participate in the department’s CES pilot program, including both first aid staff and administrative staff. Half will receive (or have already received) counterfeit devices for the first two weeks as controls. All participating staff will be instructed to use the device daily for four weeks, after which they can choose whether to continue treatment. The SPD has created a number of ways to track the effectiveness of the stimulant: employee symptoms and other health data will be measured through virtual doctor visits, self-reports and a wrist-worn ReadiBand. Fatigue Science, the Vancouver-based company that makes ReadiBand, says the group can track user fatigue, mental performance and response time, data that are critical to measuring both stimulus success and fitness. individual employees for what is often a fast-paced, high-stakes job.

The SPD pilot program will be relatively short, which means that it will not provide enough data to determine whether the Fisher Wallace stimulant improves the mental health of law enforcement officials in the long run. However, those with depression, anxiety and insomnia know that even short-term relief can be valuable.

“This is our first approach in a set of research projects we call practical health research,” Atterley told GeekWire. “We are open and receptive to other projects that can help support people’s behavior and well-being.”

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