Some 1,300 members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have so far been trained as para-professional counsellors as part of an initiative between the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) and the Government, which is aimed at equipping policemen and women to help themselves and their colleagues cope with stress.
Chairman of the Department of Behavioural Science at NCU, Dr Grace Kelly, said the programme was rolled out last year in response to an upsurge in cases of murder- suicide across the island, committed by police personnel.
It was believed that in some of the cases, the police personnel implicated were having trouble coping with stress on the job as well as domestic issues.
Commenting on the importance of the training, Kelly said at the end of the 45-hour training course the policemen and women were better equipped to "identify what is happening to them and are taught basic coping mechanisms, so even if something unexpected happens under tragic circumstances they are able to cope".
According to Kelly, para-professional counsellor training, which is undertaken at the Police Academy at Twickenham Park in St Catherine, pulls from some of the subject areas already offered at the training school "and reinforces some of the concepts".
She added: "We look at the training that they would have had and, added to that, the basic skills for identifying challenges and when there is a counselling need."
She said at the end of the training they are given the opportunity to utilise their skills and share their experience with their instructor.
"What I have learned from them is that they have been able to do what they have been taught. Even on the spot they speak to the value of what they learnt, not just about themselves, but the things that they have been able to correct," she said.
A batch of some 150 police personnel is scheduled to undergo training over the coming days under the programme.