Thin blue line finds refuge from daily horrors of the job
Anonymous counselling service offers much-needed support for stressed-out cops, says TANYA FARBER
CONSTABLE Tong (not his real name) was one of South Africa?s many overworked police personnel for whom life and work were becoming too difficult. This time last year~ he had plunged into a cycle of drug and alcohol abuse.
?I came to a point where I was at mywits?endandwasfeellng suicidal,? he says And It wasn?t until he contacted Frontline - a toll-free helpline for police workers and their families -that things began to improve.
?It really helped me a lot,? he says.
?Through the helpline, I got to see a social worker, and now I see a psychologist on a regular basis.
?I don?t use drugs or alcohol anymore, but sometimes it?s a challenge.? With crime statistics hovering at the top end on the global charts, a lack of resources to augment SAPS with personnel, and Inadequate psychological support, police officers often sink into depression or suffer from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They may encounter horrific situations on a daily basis, and there is little time to deal with the emotional fallout before moving onto the next case.
It was this situation which prompted a private pharmaceutical company, Pharma Dynamics, to team up with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) to set up Fronthne.
Fbr many officers, this service has been a lifeline because It is anonymous. Even where in-house support Is available, seeking help may carry a negative stigma.
Cassey Amoore, counselling services manager at Sadag, says: ?Because we don?t need their officer number, and because their calls do not get logged on their records, they are more willing to share their deepest thoughts of depression, anxiety PTSD and even suicide with a counsellor.? She says some officers who don?t seek help or treatment may end up feeling helpless and hopeless and that the only way to end their problems is to end their lives.
According to Professor Soraya Seedat, South African Research Chair in PTSD in the Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University, ?PTSD is a disorder that develops when some individuals who survive a traumatic event are affected so strongly by the experience that they are unable to live a normal life. The symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause a lot of distress, or interfere with work or home life, then It Is probably PrSD.? In the local context, the ongoing exposure of police workers to traumatic situations can have a longterm hnpact if help is not sought.
?Typically, If assistance for PSTD isn?t sought, other problems develop,? explains Professor Seedat.
?These might be drinking or drugs problems - often used as an attempt to ?drown out? the symptoms of the disorder - or, employment and fInancial problems, relationship problems including divorce and partner violence, physical illnesses and feelings of despair? She says that the most effective way of dealing with PSTD is ?usually a combination of a type of counselling treatment - known as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) -and medication?.
Rosemary Gi.ralt, productS manager of neuropsychiatry at Pharma Dynamics, says some form of accessible counselling became necessary so that police officers could seek help without being ?seen as ?weak? or ?not coplng~ with their highly stressful jobs?.
From February to April this yeai the average number of calls that the helpline received per month was 279.
Representatives from Sadag and Pharma Dynamics, however, hope that that number increases over the course of the yeai not because there are more hi need of It, but because there are more aware of It.
A recent report from Sadag indicated that ?helpline posters and business cards were a major success at police stations, and that personnel really identified with the campaign?, but Giralt says marketing the free service to police officers must continue as a matter of top priority ? The toll-free Fronthne number Is 0800 20 5026
TRAUMA: A policeman tries to cope with horrific situations encountered on the job on an almost daily basis. There Is little time to deal with the emotional fallout before moving on to the next case and it is only a matter of time before he readies breaking point and snaps.
IN THE WORKPLACE
Research on Depression in the Workplace.
For more information please click here
Mental Health Matters Journal for Psychiatrists & GP's
Click here for more info
If you are a journalist writing a story contact Kayla on 011 234 4837 email@example.com
It’s the small things that make a BIG difference. Sign up for the “My School | My Village | My Planet” Card and start making a difference to Mental Health in South Africa today.
Literacy is a luxury that many of us take for granted. That is why SADAG created SPEAKING BOOKS and revolutionized the way healthcare information is delivered to low literacy communities.
The customizable 16-page book, read by local celebrity audio recordings, ensures that vital health and social messages can be seen, heard, read and understood by everyone across the world.
We started with books on Teen Suicide prevention , HIV, AIDS and Depression, Understanding Mental Health and have developed over 100+ titles, such as TB, Malaria, Polio, Vaccines for over 45 countries.
- Click here to see speaking books in action
- Click here for sample book on clinical trials
- Click here to connect to international site
- Speaking books for Health Care YouTube
Thin blue line finds refuge from daily horrors of the job
Dr Reddy's Help Line
0800 21 22 23
Cipla 24hr Mental Health Helpline
0800 456 789
Pharmadynamics Police &Trauma Line
0800 20 50 26
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90
0800 55 44 33
Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline
0800 12 13 14
Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567
SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837
Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour
0861 435 787
Cipla Whatsapp Chat Line
(9am-4pm, 7 days a week)
076 882 2775
24 hour Healthcare Workers Care Network Helpline
0800 21 21 21
0800 515 515
EMERGENCY Contact Numbers for Students in South Africa - Click here
MENTAL HEALTH CALENDAR 2021
Teen Suicide Prevention Week
14 - 21 February
World Bipolar Day
SA Bipolar Awareness Day
Substance Abuse Awareness Day
Mental Health Awareness Month
1 – 31 July
Panic Awareness Day
World Suicide Prevention Day
World Mental Health Day
World Mental Awareness Month
1 - 31 October
View our list of informative Infographics.
SADAG KZN Branch
SADAG has an office in Durban with the support of Psychiatrist Dr Suvira Ramlall and Clinical Psychologist, Suntosh Pillay. Administrated by Lynn Norton
The KZN Branch is deeply committed to:
- Launching new Support Groups
- Workshops on Mental Health
- School Talks on Suicide Prevention
- Corporate Wellness For KZN companies
Want to become a volunteer counsellor? Contact Senzi 011 234 4837
Click here for more information.
If you are interested in starting a Support Group, please contact Krystle on 0800 21 22 23.
To find a Support Group in your area, please phone SADAG on 0800 21 22 23.
Click here for more information
Mental Health & Depression Book
A book called Surfacing, in which Marion Scher has sat down with a number of South Africans to share their stories of their personal struggles with mental health issues.
Want to know more? Click Here