SADAG POLICE TALKS
The police work is getting well established with 7 talks having taken place since 8th June when Captain Ndaba, a social worker who has recently moved to Sophiatown Police station first asked SADAG to come and talk there. She subsequently requested that 8 further talks be given: 2 more at Sophiatown, and 3 further talks at Brixton and Langlaagte Police stations respectively. (7 further talks in all). The last of these is scheduled for 13th November, by which time approximately 15 SADAG POLICE PRESENTATIONS will have taken place.
The most successful presentation formula to date has been about “Coping Skills Workshop: Fighting Stress”. This presentation begins by emphasizing the seriousness of police suicides. SA Police suicides peaked in 1994, with figures five times higher than anywhere else in the world (Pienaar, Rothmann, & van de Vijver, 2007). Numbers have come down since then but remain critical. While we were at Jeppe police station, the resident psychometrist reported 3 suicides to have taken place in the last few months, plus three attempted suicides. In response to this the police have published their own A4 booklet on suicide entitled “Choosing Life”. This is an outstanding publication and will help enormously.
The presentation progresses to relate how people with low coping skills for fighting stress are at risk of suicide, and presents 4 basic coping skills for fighting against stress:
1) a problem solving approach to problems both at the work place and in personal issues,
2) Processing the typically negative emotions which stress evokes,
3) Access positive emotions by different means and in different contexts in one’s life, and finally
4) Breaking down stressful situation into “bite size” elements which can then be addressed “one step at a time”.
The Stress Workshop includes participants filling out a work sheet where a stress producing context or situation is identified by the participant ( this may or may not be shared with others in the group depending on how the participants feel).
This worksheet prompts different relevant stress induced emotions to be identified (hopelessness, hurt, anger, despair) and how these often negative first reactions may be processed in the context of making a plan, into one’s own APPROACH to the situation allowing the way for mastery and positive emotions. Awareness, expression and communication of emotions is advocated, with a selection of options listing the different possibilities to anonymous phone counseling, including SADAG’s own helpline specifically for the police 0800 20 50 26, as advertised on our posters, as well as contact cards, all bearing the slogan: “The Perfect weapon to fight your personal battles” (The poster shows a telephone handset in a gun holster). This has been kindly funded by Pharma Dynamics.
A second presentation is chosen by the host police station which may be on trauma, suicide, or depression, which takes place after a 15 minute break. Discussion is encouraged after the stress workshop, to give participants the chance to talk about their own everyday examples of stress in their lives. Many regard financial problems as a safe and not too personal form of stress to discuss, but more personal issues also arise, and on two occasions a participant in the group became tearful as they talked about the stress in their lives. In neither case did the tearful participants regret sharing their emotions with the group as it was able to make them feel heard and follow-up was always assured by representatives of the Employee Assistance Services (EAS), who were present. A second presentation is chosen by the host police station which may be on trauma, suicide, or depression, which takes place after a 15 minute break.
We have always been appreciatively received on these talks, and the need for the Police force to try to come to grips with stress in the workplace is very obvious. On the other hand, the number of police personnel who volunteer to come to these SADAG events is often lower than we would like , with as few as 8 participants in some stations. Often, the person who has invited us, usually police psychologist or social worker, are disappointed that more people did not turn up. However, in the case of small groups, it is always easier to get active participation from those attending and a feeling of “safety to talk about their problems”.
Anyone who would like to have more information please call me on
011 782 33 86 or 0738669760 – Martin Courtney. Snr. Trainer . SADAG