Local news

SAPS host a mental health awareness day

South African Police Services (SAPS) attend to their members' mental health.

TO commemorate Mental Health Awareness month, which took place in October, the South African Police Services (SAPS) Employee Health and Wellness Department hosted a Mental Health Awareness Day.

Hosted at the Red Point Church in Pinetown, the awareness day saw the SAPS members from the KwaZulu-Natal province gather and gain knowledge about what their employers have to offer when it comes to taking care of their mental health. The awareness day was also attended by members of higher rankings from the national office.

The day was divided into two parts. It began with the first session that included a programme with different keynotes speakers. During the second session, members were treated with more health information from different health organisations that had their stalls set up outside.

ALSO READ: Inchanga police officer back in court

Speaking to the Highway Mail about the purpose of the day, Brigadier Petunia Lenono said the awareness day happens annually as an initiative aimed to empower their members’ mental health.
“Our members are exposed to traumatic incidents in their line of duty. Mental health issues are prevalent and common in South Africa. We are here to reach out to our members, to remind them and create awareness that services catered for their mental health are available and reachable to them. We would hate to see our members deal with these issues on their own – a support system is very important,” she said.

When asked about the number of incidents where police are accused of murders, Lenono said the awareness day is not a reaction to that.
“We do have reactive services and proactive services. The reactive services are the interventions we put in place once a challenge has been picked up. They include services such as counselling and trauma debriefing.

ALSO READ: Perpetrator wanted for stabbing Pinetown police officer

“We also do have proactive programmes because we understand the nature of work that the police do. We facilitate these programmes before a problem occurs – they include education on mental health matters and how to identify mental illness. We also offer services where members are assisted to work through those programmes,” said Lenono.

Echoing Lenono’s words, addictionologist Lochman Naidoo said such programmes are important for police members given their nature of work. Naidoo was one of the keynote speakers at the awareness day. Having worked with mental health issues for more than two decades, Naidoo said childhood experiences are what build an adult. He said this could determine the patterns of the adult.
“Children who grew up in dysfunctional households, where there was abuse and neglect, are prone to suffer from mental illness – the abuse is able to change their genetics. When it comes to mental health, it is important to look at the root cause so it can be prevented for the future,” he said.

For more from the Highway Mail, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. You can also follow us on Instagram.

Related Articles

Back to top button