AUSTIN, Texas - Law enforcement agencies are no longer focusing solely on the physical fitness of employees. The new school of thought is "whole body health." To help accomplish that, the Travis County Sheriff's Office will now offer acupuncture.
"As a police officer, they wear a lot of gear around their belt. They're sitting in a car on a day to day basis,"said Travis County Sheriff’s Office Captain Juan Sandoval.
As Sandoval explains, the job of a deputy can take a toll on the body, "You just have a lot of pain."
Not all job-related issues present outward symptoms. There are internal struggles that are climbing higher on the priority list for law enforcement agencies to address.
"We try to make that shift to focus or understand that we now can recognize we have issues. You look across the country and in news stories there's police officers that are doing things that may sound a little odd. So we need to focus on their mental health issues. We're trying to do that pro-actively within our department,” said Sandoval.
Sandoval said as part of a push for whole body health, the sheriff's office created mental health classes for staff members and brought on a department psychologist.
The latest wellness initiative will take a look at both mental and physical conditions.
The sheriff's office is partnering with the Texas Health and Science University in Austin to offer an acupuncture treatment program to employees.
"The licensed acupuncturist is going to use the students to do acupuncture on volunteer staff members,” said Sandoval.
The service is free of charge as students will use the opportunity to train.
Acupuncture is said to assist in treating issues including chronic pain, PTSD, depression, anxiety, obesity, hypertension and arthritis.
"We've actually had a lot of people interested in it,” said Sandoval.
Sandoval said he may try it out as well.
"The fact that it's available is great. I'm interested in it. I'm very curious to see the acupuncture and see if it's something I'll jump into,” said Sandoval.
The service agreement is one day a week treatment and it is good for a year.