NERHA gives po­lice men­tal-health train­ing

Jamaica Gleaner - - RURAL EXPRESS - Orantes Moore Gleaner Writer

TOWER ISLE, St Mary: PO­LICE OF­FI­CERS and health-care pro­fes­sion­als from St Ann, St Mary, and Port­land have called on the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) to in­tro­duce a staff men­tal health train­ing course fol­low­ing the suc­cess of a pi­lot scheme launched ear­lier this month by the North East Re­gional Health Au­thor­ity (NERHA).

Nine­teen of­fi­cers from across the three parishes took part in the twoweek course, which aimed at ed­u­cat­ing the po­lice on how to deal with peo­ple with men­tal is­sues and how to help them iden­tify and ad­dress their own stress-re­lated prob­lems.

GIVE THEM LOVE

Speak­ing af­ter a grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony, held at the Area 2 Po­lice Head­quar­ters in Tower Isle, St Mary, the pro­gramme’s star pupil, Con­sta­ble Damion In­verdale, told Ru­ral Xpress: “To­day was the cer­e­mony for a men­tal health course put on by the NERHA, which is geared at in­form­ing and sen­si­tis­ing us to var­i­ous as­pects of men­tal health.

“We learned about the Lu­nacy Act, which was en­acted in 1845 to pro­tect the men­tally ill, give them love, and recog­nise them as a valu­able part of so­ci­ety de­spite their chal­lenges. To get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing, we had lec­tures and took part in prac­ti­cal en­act­ments, which were well re­ceived. The par­tic­i­pants were en­thu­si­as­tic, and the fa­cil­i­ta­tors did a good job and were very elo­quent.

“The most im­por­tant thing I learned was self-aware­ness – be­ing aware of your sur­round­ings, your col­leagues, and the peo­ple you come across. You must have an idea of the prob­lems and chal­lenges be­cause if you don’t, you can­not find a so­lu­tion.”

Brown, who joined the force in 1999 and works pri­mar­ily as part of St Ann Bay’s high­way pa­trol team, praised the project’s or­gan­is­ers and urged the JCF lead­er­ship to launch the scheme na­tion­ally.

BET­TER OR­GAN­I­SA­TION

He said: “Speak­ing on be­half of the others who took part, go­ing for­ward, the JCF is a bet­ter or­gan­i­sa­tion hav­ing this kind of knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tion be­ing dis­sem­i­nated to us. This course has made me more cog­nisant and real, so when I see cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, I’ll be able to make bet­ter as­sess­ments and de­ci­sions.

“It would be good if the JCF could roll out some­thing like this to­tally so every­one can have a sim­i­lar un­der­stand­ing be­cause these is­sues aren’t go­ing any­where. What will change is how we treat men­tal health be­cause we have to con­stantly re-en­er­gise our­selves and come up with new, pos­i­tive, and ac­cept­able meth­ods of deal­ing with these kinds of sit­u­a­tions.”

The project’s de­signer, NERHA men­tal health of­fi­cer and trainer Hy­acinth Samuels, echoed In­verdale’s com­ments and rec­om­mended that psy­chol­o­gists for po­lice of­fi­cers be per­ma­nently sta­tioned at all five of the JCF’s Area Head­quar­ters.

PHO­TOS BY TA­MARA BAI­LEY

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