Mental Health Association Commends Belize Commissioner of Police for Mandatory Counseling Initiative

Mental Health Association Commends Belize Commissioner of Police for Mandatory Counseling Initiative

The Mental Health Association (MHA) is commending the Commissioner of Police Chester Williams for his determination to make counseling mandatory for Police Officers. The association believes the move will undoubtedly improve the quality of life of Police Officers and reduce the stigma around counseling. MHA Vice President Azalia Larrie says that the aim is to work with the department to provide a safe space for police officers. 

Azalia Larrie, Vice President, Mental Health Association: “Through the mental health association we are glad also to hear that the police department is looking at preventative issues, how do we prevent ? How do we make police officers feel safer as well in the department that they’re looking into that and offering counselling as well for the police department. So it’s interesting to note that previously we looked at how do we prevent substance use disorder or is that even preventable but we cannot get to that unless our officers feel safe right ? So a part of that is also integrating safety within the police officers, within the police department. If I feel safe I can speak to you. If I feel safe I am a lot more resilient to the trauma and the secondary trauma that will happen daily every single day that they’re faced with. Which only increases anger, sadness and so we see a lot of frustration within officers leading to substance use disorder.”

Larrie also touched on the challenges that first responders face due to high levels of stress in their field of work.

Azalia Larrie, Vice President, Mental Health Association: “How do we help our police officers right ? Increase in stress we see a lot of police officers suffering physical illnesses right ? So heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and substance use those are all a part of trying to survive and to self medicate stress right ? Whether it is occupational stress or stress within family. Counselling should be something offered and it is offered to all public officers especially first responders. Personally I work along with the public service through the employee assistance program there and we do get a lot of police officers who would seek counselling so it is open.”

MHA encourages all leaders in the uniformed services, unions, and businesses to consider steps that they can take to support positive behavioral change in their employees.

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