27 April 2022
To Protect and Serve: Police Get Mental Health Support Training
Supervisors from the Community Oriented Policing Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) participated in the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Training conducted this week by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in collaboration with the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Families in Action. The training was designed to strengthen the capacity of the Community Oriented Policing Unit in responding to the psychosocial needs of both management and staff. The training enabled participants to: · Set up psychosocial support systems for staff; · Gain an understanding of core concepts concerning the psychological well-being of staff and their roles and responsibilities in this capacity; · Develop practical skills in self-care, peer support, and psychological first aid; and · Utilise management and planning tools such as setting up psychosocial support systems, implementing monitoring and evaluation, and utilising communication strategies. The IOM Port-of -Spain Head of Office, Jewel Ali explained that the training is part of IOM’s ongoing efforts to design and implement capacity-building initiatives in various aspects of MHPSS for a variety of sectors including law enforcement. “As members of the Community Oriented Policing Unit, it is of paramount importance that your personal mental health is in an optimal state. And as supervisors, it is therefore vitally important that systems and policies not only exist, but are effectively implemented, to ensure the psychosocial well-being of both yourselves and the officers under your charge. Therefore, the purpose of the training is to strengthen the capacity of the Community Oriented Policing Unit in responding to the mental health needs of you and your staff,” she said. The NGO, Families in Action (FIA), has joined IOM in facilitating these sessions. For more than 30 years, FIA has offered Counselling Services, Employee Assistance and Workplace Support in addition to other services, which seek to improve to their clients’ mental health and wellness as well as family life. Acting Inspector Kurt Callender of the Community Oriented Policing Unit said it was important to apply tools provided to treat with mental health. “Because we are charged with the responsibility to go into the community and build and foster relationships (with the public). Which means we have to treat with all the societal ills and issues affecting our society. So we need to be in the right frame of mind to resolve disputes and to foster symbiotic relations between the police and the public," he said. He said the TTPS and in particular, the Community Oriented Policing Unit looks forward to a meaningful relationship with IOM. Over the past six weeks a total of 60 Police Officers and Supervisors from the Community Oriented Policing Unit participated in online and in-person sessions, and the sessions will be continuing for five more weeks. The trainings were sponsored by the US. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain, Megan Kelly stated that, “This training will play an important role in building the mental resilience of the officers in the Community Oriented Policing Unit, so that they are better able to cope with the demands of their jobs, and to enable them to form a more cohesive body through which they can help each other to help others. “We all oftentimes tend to look inwards and try to address personal challenges on our own, myself included. However, raising awareness through this training and taking a more holistic approach to building resilience and addressing the toll of policing, is a positive step forward – both from an individual and organizational perspective.” Kelly added that the US Embassy Port of Spain looks forward to collaborating with other initiatives by the IOM, to help build the capacity of the people and institutions in Trinidad and Tobago. IOM’s programmatic approach to protection includes the integration of MHPSS in its multi-sectoral response and recognises the opportunities to collaborate, as well as engage with key partners, such as law enforcement/frontline officials who comprise the protection continuum. The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts people at the centre of all actions and acknowledges that being and staying healthy is a fundamental precondition for persons to work, be productive and positively contribute to the social and economic development of communities.