– Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister Designate for the Interior, has advised police commanders to pay attention to the grievances of junior officers to curb suicidal cases among personnel.
“Exhibit true leadership at various levels. When an officer reports to you, take note of the mannerisms of that officer and if you notice anything strange in their behaviour, please engage them. Don’t be dismissive of their concerns or grievances,” he said.
Mr Dery gave the advice at the opening of a four-day course on mental health for Senior Police Officers.
The course, organised by the Ghana Police Service, in collaboration with the Ghana Psychological Association, will enhance the knowledge base of participants to resolve issues pertaining to mental conditions of police personnel.
Mr Dery said the mental state of personnel was critical to ensuring effective service delivery and lauded the Police Administration for making mental health a mainstream course in police training.
Mr James Oppong-Boanuh, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), said the course would be replicated across the country to address some fundamental health concerns of personnel.
He said the success of every organisation depended on the quality of its human resource and how satisfied the employee was.
Thus, the concept of employee welfare would always be part of organisational efficiency of the Service, he said.
“Employees have always been integral components of the organisation and the continuity, viability and survival are anchored on them. One very important success criteria of every organisation is the extent to which it invests resources to support both physical and mental conditions of its workforce,” Mr Oppong-Buanuh said.
He said policing was one of the most stressful, demanding and potentially depressing professions and, globally, among most law enforcement officers, suicide had been considered an occupational hazard.
That was due to job stress, long hours of work, societal pressure, adjustment problems, unmet expectations, fierce threats in the line of duty, exposure to dangers and accident scenes, marital problems, availability of firearms and alcoholism, the IGP said.
He said a number of police personnel went through stressful conditions due to family and work-related issues and the situation got severe when such people had no appropriate avenue to express their concerns for suitable redress.
“In extreme cases, they resort to suicide as the best solution to their mental agony. Recent happenings of some senior and junior officers committing suicide are very regrettable concerns to the Police Administration. This unwanted trend needs to cease forthwith. You commanders have a very crucial role to play in this regard,” he said.
The IGP said the setting up of a Counselling Unit indicated the commitment of the Police Service to improve the psychological wellbeing of members.
It was expected that the Unit, manned by competent personnel, would roll out a broad range of programmes to improve psychological concerns of staff and help them to overcome their struggles.
The IGP said the counsellors would focus on individual treatment as well as group therapy to help others in similar situations to guide persons through the difficult transition of going from addict to functional personnel in the Service.
He expressed appreciation to stakeholders and the Ghana Psychological Association (GPA) for supporting the psychological wellbeing of police personnel.
Commissioner of Police, Mrs Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, Director-General of Welfare, said personnel needed to speak up about the issues that burdened them to have them resolved.
She advised the senior officers to be observant to the change in behaviour of officers and find ways to draw them to themselves so they would open up.
Madam Erica Danfrekua Dickson, the former President of GPA, lauded the IGP for welcoming them when they approached him concerning the workshop, and made it a reality within a week.
She advised police personnel to make good use of the Counseling Unit to reap the benefits with regard to their mental health.