KINGSTON — Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security, Dianne McIntosh, says the Ministry is working assiduously to strengthen its intervention mechanisms that offer psychological and counselling support to police officers.
One short term intervention, she informed, is a series of one-day workshops offering refresher courses in pastoral care and counselling for Police chaplains and pastors who counsel those who are at risk for depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
The Permanent Secretary was speaking at the first workshop for Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Chaplains and Station Pastors, held yesterday June 21 at the United Theological College of the West Indies, in Kingston.
“We expect that this seminar will enhance your ability to offer assistance to officers who are at the edge, to guide them back to normal behaviour,” Miss McIntosh told the participants.
The Permanent Secretary pointed out that post traumatic stress disorder and depression have become major concerns for law enforcement officers across the world, due to the extent of stress and trauma that they continuously face in conducting their duties and responsibilities.
In recent months, research by academics at the University of the West Indies, public statements by psychiatrists and news reports have indicated that Jamaica has a significant number of persons who can be classified as clinically depressed and who are traumatised as primary, secondary or tertiary victims of crime and violence.
“Studies of stress among many disciplines, including the police, have identified time pressures and poor support from superiors as the greatest sources of stress,” the Permanent Secretary noted.
She posited that because of their pillar of strength perception, police officers tend to keep issues to themselves when it comes to their own personal trials and tribulation. “In the process it slowly eats away at their own health and satisfaction in life. They are also exposed to human crisis and trauma situations, which go well beyond normal experiences, so they are at greater risk for developing stress related illnesses,” she added.
In the meantime, Miss McIntosh commended all the Chaplains and Station Pastors for participating in the session.
At the end of the workshop, the participants would have revised: the basic knowledge of the effect of post traumatic stress disorder; interventions that could alleviate and prevent the onset of depression or post traumatic stress disorder; the range of symptoms that could suggest that a person is suffering from depression; and self care strategies for pastoral counsellors and peer counsellors.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter