Thu | Apr 26, 2018

NERHA gives police mental-health training

Published:Thursday | September 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMOrantes Moore
Constable Damion Inverdale and mental health expert Hyacinth Samuels celebrate the conclusion of a pioneering two-week police training course at Area 2 Headquarters in 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 two-week 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.




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.




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.