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St Catherine police partner with specialists to deal with mentally ill

St Catherine police partner with specialists to deal with mentally ill

Posted  102 Views updated 8 months ago

The unfortunate and sometimes deadly encounters with individuals who suffer from mental illness have prompted the police to forge a working relationship with mental health professionals.

This was announced at a virtual town hall meeting held recently.

The session saw practitioners in mental health care strengthening the relationship with police and patients.

Dr Colleen Gooden, consultant psychiatrist, St Catherine Community Mental Health Services, said that there are 14 centres dealing with issues of mental health.

She said that members of her team of aides and nurses in the parish are ready to partner with law-enforcement agencies to deal with mental health issues.

“This [team] is necessary, as there are patients who are being treated at the Spanish Town and Linstead General hospitals, which is an option, instead of the Bellevue,” said Gooden.

She revealed that the programme of treatment for the mentally-ill has been around for the last 20 years.

The mental health specialist said the public needs to be sensitive to the needs of these patients who need help.


“Many see them as ‘mad’, but with timely intervention and aftercare, they can be productive and make [positive] contributions to society,” she said.

Gooden said that working with the police is important as more often than not, they are the first responders.

“For the most part, the patients are located and treated. There are times when there are resistant patients who require to be dealt with care,” she said.

Psychologist Dr Margaret Barnett, who was also a presenter, emphasised the importance of understanding mental health issues.

“Many [people] see them [those suffering from mental health issues] as mad people who are dangerous. There are some who have to be given involuntary treatment, but they are sick and need help. So we commend the police in hosting this meeting, as the members form an important part of the thrust,” Barnett said.

Detective Inspector Pilmar Powell highlighted the need for understanding and compassion when dealing with a mentally challenged individual.

“When there is a mental (health) case the need for care is very important,” Powell, who is a trained social worker in behaviour modification and counselling, said.

“There are cases where people (clients) forget who they are and do various acts. The police have to deal with these cases daily, so interactions to educate all concerned are relevant to successfully deal with the effects of mental health.”


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