JIS News

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) on (June 6) launched its telephone helpline service, which will provide 24-hour counselling for members of the JCF and their families, in addition to information on health-related issues.
The helpline, which goes into service on Monday (June 11), will be served by specially trained counselors, who will provide advice on a variety of personal and professional issues and if necessary, refer clients to appropriate agencies to access further help.
Already, 17 counsellors have been trained for the programme, informed Consultant Psychologist with the JCF, Dr. George Leveridge at the launching ceremony held at the Police Officers’ Club in Kingston.
He informed that training of the counsellors began in January and ended last month, and among the areas covered were: providing counselling for persons being tested for HIV; psychological principles; domestic violence; emotional management; stress management; and crisis intervention.
According to Dr. Leveridge, the creation of this helpline forms part of an effort by the JCF Medical Services Branch to fulfill its mandate of developing and providing a range of services that will effectively meet the mental and physical needs of police personnel, their families and the civilian staff of the constabulary.
Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips, in his remarks, said that the helpline “represents a further stage in the development of the JCF and is certainly a part of the overall modernization programme an effort that is underway.” The service, he noted, will contribute to the creation of “an organization with heart,” one that pays specific attention to the human needs of the men and women it employs.
For his part, Commissioner of Police, Lucius Thomas noted that the police faced various professional and personal challenges, and expressed satisfaction that yet another welfare issue concerning the JCF is being addressed through the implementation of the counselling service.
“This helpline is another step in the direction of promoting healthy lifestyles within the JCF. My hope is that all members will avail themselves of the opportunities offered to keep or make themselves healthy. I encourage members and their families to use the new facility. Every healthy policeman means a more progressive, professional police officer and Jamaica in turn will benefit,” he stated.
Rae Barrett of the National Health Fund (NHF), one of the sponsors of the helpline, said that the service is another milestone in the development of mental health care in Jamaica, noting that research shows that 18 per cent of the country’s adult population suffers from depression.
According to Mr. Barrett, the helpline is “an excellent medium of communication for members of the force and their families because it offers the necessary privacy and confidentiality for persons, who need to access such support.”
“We see this service as providing valuable support for this special group of persons, who are in need of emotional and social support. Policing is one of the most stressful and life-endangering occupations, as a result of this, policemen and women and their families are often affected by depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress,” he added.
The NHF, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Northern Caribbean University are the other sponsors of the programme. JCF members and their families will be able to access the facility by dialing 1-888-2-438- 4357 (GET-HELP).

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