What Your Patients are Hearing

Police department offers mental health care for officers


 

Police officers often are criticized for the way they respond to people with serious mental illness. What happens when officers find themselves struggling with mental disorders? A police department in Florida is addressing this issue by hiring a licensed clinical psychologist and making her available to officers on a 24/7 basis, an ABC-TV affiliate reported. “The goal is they come in, they work on what they need to; we get them right, we get them good so that they can go back out and do what they need to do – and then they check in as needed,” Brandy Benson, PsyD, said in the report. The meetings take place in her office and not the police station, which allows officers to maintain confidentiality. Each officer is allotted a set number of free sessions for each issue that is fueling their distress. Issues can range from depression to anxiety to marital problems. The aim is prevention – not reaction to whatever has happened. Getting at the root cause can prevent spillover on the job, which in turn, can prove disastrous for officers, the people they serve, and their families. “It’s okay to go through those emotions, but you don’t want to tie those emotions up because sooner or later it’s going to pop and we want to make sure we address that issue before it goes ‘pop,’ ” said St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway. WFTS-TV, Tampa Bay, Fla.

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Two women have embarked on their self-described “joy tour” to raise awareness about suicide prevention. Shontice McKenzie and Cedrica Mitchell are on the road with the intention of visiting every state, according to an article on thefix.com, a website that focuses on addiction and recovery. The tour is the brainchild of Ms. McKenzie and is funded by her nonprofit H.U.M.A.N.I.T.Y. 360. During their month-long extended stops in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and a just-completed stay in Alabama, the women are speaking and providing positive outlets to those in turmoil and contemplating suicide, thefix reported, based on a post on al.com. The choice of Alabama as one of the first stops on the planned nationwide tour was deliberate. The suicide rate in the state has been higher than the national average for nearly 3 decades – 16.2/100,000, compared with 13.9/100,000 nationally. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death of those aged 10-14 years in Alabama. Ms. McKenzie and Ms. Mitchell want to see the stigma surrounding mental illness removed. “We have met so many families who are still in denial about a family member who completed the act of suicide because they don’t want the backlash from the public,” Ms. McKenzie said. “They should have received more support around the topic. Then we can prevent suicides. That’s what the Joy Tour is about.” The end of each state visit includes what the two call a “joy jam” – a free event where people can eat, get information on mental health resources in their area, and learn how to incorporate mental health care into their everyday lives. The tour is slated to wrap up in 2023 in Hawaii. Thefix.com.

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