A number of internal services and initiatives aimed at protecting the mental health of police officers has been announced.
“Policing, as a profession, can at times be dangerous and stressful and requires officers to have a good level of mental and physical health. Therefore, renewed emphasis will be placed on the psychological and physical wellbeing of all members of the workforce,” the police force said alongside the new policies.
The new approach to protecting officers comes as part of the Malta Police Transformation Strategy 2020-2025, which is a roadmap for the upcoming years for police authorities.
The Wellbeing Policy will include all police staff, sworn and non-sworn officers, and hopes to “prevent or mitigate potential difficulties in wellbeing”.
“The nature of work in the Malta Police Force renders its employees exposed to stress often associated with the physical demands of the job, including long working hours and shifts that result in sleep deprivation and the perceived lack of support often associated with the job,” Inspector Matthew Attard, responsible for The Transformation Strategy & Change Management said.
“Traumatic experiences, such as exposure to violent deaths, near death incidents, and injuries are equally traumatic,” he continued. “These, as well as to the employee’s personal experiences and traumas, can result in emotional and behavioural difficulties.”
“This is a change in mentality to address stigma related to mental health.”
Witnessing or experiencing any of the following situations may negatively affect an individual’s wellbeing. These may include:
1. Life threatening incident involving the employee on duty;
2. Suicide/suicide attempts;
3. Multiple serious injuries;
4. Fatalities especially where children are involved;
5. Operations involving shootings;
6. Loss of life of a person following extraordinary and prolonged rescue efforts;
7. Any other incidents which may have impacted the employee on duty.
Now, anyone exposed to any of the above situations as part of their duties will be automatically referred to the ESP Unit through the police Victim Support Unit.
A professional from the ESP Unit will contact each officer to offer support as necessary.
“Intervention programmes can be provided directly, such as the provision of counselling services and support following critical incidents, as well as indirectly, such as the development of ongoing training and wellbeing programmes,” Attard said. “This is a move forward towards supporting the workforce through a more positive working environment which in result it will be mirrored on the quality of service given to our communities.”
Do you think the police force should be offered better mental health support?