JIS News

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) yesterday (Feb. 9) officially launched its series of psycho-educational workshops, under which 145 of the island’s policemen and women have already benefited from assistance to reduce personal and job-related stress.
The workshops, which got underway last November, under the guidance of Dr. George Leveridge, head of the JCF Medical Unit, provide relevant information on maintaining good mental health, and facilitate discussion on disorders of the mind and body, anger management, sexual and addiction disorders, and major depression.
Several hundred other police men and women are slated to benefit from seven two-day workshops to be held between February and May.
Health Minister, John Junor, who delivered the main address at the launch held at the Police Officer’s Club on Hope Road, indicated that on account of the exceptional pressures faced by policemen and women, the workshops would serve a most useful purpose.
He noted that stress could reduce the immune system’s ability to fight off diseases and could lead to chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancers. Statistics from the National Policy for the Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles in Jamaica indicate that 50 per cent of deaths annually are linked to chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
“Stress makes one less likely to manage emotions and hence the tendency of many persons under stress to be irritated,” Minister Junor added.
The accumulation of stress over time, coupled with the lack of proper ways to deal with the problem, the Health Minister pointed out, could lead to the development of post-traumatic syndrome, particularly in instances where a policeman or woman has to face situations that involve trauma.
Minister Junor expressed the hope that the workshops would be particularly beneficial to men, in terms of teaching them how to relate and talk about problems they might have.
The Health Minister also gave a commitment to assist the JCF’s Medical Unit to install a help line for members, who, though hesitant to seek medical aid, might feel more comfortable speaking anonymously to someone on the telephone.
“I am sure I can commit since mental health falls within the purview of the conditions covered by the National Health Fund”, he stated.
In his address, Commissioner of Police, Lucius Thomas emphasised that the work of a police was far from easy and not many persons were cognisant of the difficulties wrought by the profession. “There are those who even believe we are super-human and are not subjected to the various illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic disorders, relationship difficulties, bi-polar disorder and other general medical disorders associated with a stressful job and living on the edge almost everyday,” he pointed out.
Commissioner Thomas noted that since the establishment of the JCF’s Medical Unit in January 2005, police personnel, their spouses and their children have accessed its services. “The inclusion of family members is of great significance to me because it makes no sense just treating police personnel when entire families, especially the most vulnerable – children – are also feeling pain and stress,” he stated.
Organisations such as the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, and MENSANA, have given support to the workshops.

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