Anonymous helpline for officers taking strain
IF TRAIJMATISED or depressed police officers don?t feel comfortable reaching out to their colleagues, a toll-free helpline which they and their relatives may use anonymously has been set up.
The SA Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) and Cape Town:based pharmaceuti: cal company Pharma Dynamics have set up Frontline, which offers police and their families free support for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.
About 70 trained counsellors are on duty seven days a week to listen to their problems and offer support. The toll-free line, which is also available to the public and to which police officers have even started referring crime victims, is 0800 20 50 26.
Sadag couaselling services tanager Cassey Amoore said police officers often felt they could talk more openly about their deepest thoughts of depression, anxiety, PTSD and even suicide with a counsellor, because they did not need to give their name or officer number, nor are their calls logged on their work records.
?One must... realise that police officers have normal lives too, and often don?t want to discuss personal issues with counsellors at work.
?They might be going through a divorce, or they?re worried about a spouse, or they?re dealing with the death of a child.
?They often struggle to cope because they work long hours,? he said.
A special concern with police officers was that most had access to guns on duty and at home while on standby.
Rosemary Giralt, product manager of neuropsychiatry at f~harma Dynamics, said that although Frontline was dedicated to police members, anyone needing help was welcome to call.