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Mastering Mental Health - A Springboard in Law Enforcement

posted Sep 13, 2012, 10:35 AM by S. Wickelgren   [ updated Nov 1, 2012, 2:39 PM by Mark Wickelgren ]
The recent data provided by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) says there are 450 million people suffering from mental illnesses all over the globe. The sad part is that these mentally ill individuals need to deal with the negative attitudes of the people around them. In fact, NAMI revealed that only 45% of Americans believe that those who suffer from mental illnesses can recover and become functional again.

A mentally ill person needs a very good source of support from his family, law enforcement officers, and the society. This is the key to a successful recovery from the illness. This must be the main goal of people caring and interacting with a mentally ill person. Like other people in the healthcare industry, law enforcement officers must also learn the psychology of mentally ill individuals as they are responsible for these individuals when they are under the custody of the police.

Here are some tips that might help a police officer in dealing with a mentally ill:
  • Learn about the illness. Most of us have a vague notion about mental illness and its attributes. As the primary contact of the mentally ill, you must know your limitations in order to maintain independence and self-reliance of the client. Remember, mental illness is a broad topic, and each type of mental illness has its own principles of caring for the client. Understanding the nature of the illness as well as the needs and limitations of the clients will surely help.
  • Respect the client as a person. Sometimes you tend to create a barrier between the mentally ill and yourself. That won’t help either of you. Respecting the feelings of the mentally ill individual and treating them as a normal person is a gesture of respect as well as your professionalism as a police officer.
  • Master the art of therapeutic communication. Medically speaking, therapeutic communication is the complement of therapeutic drugs in helping mentally ill clients. There should be an open line of communication between you, the family members and other healthcare providers. Acknowledge the feelings of the client, let him express his emotions and respond to him with optimism.
  • Understand the recovery process. Mental illness takes a long time to be resolved. It’s not a linear process of recovery. Instead, it is like a curve that sometimes relapses. Understand the client and be supportive to whatever progress he displays. Never try to rush the recovery process.

Mastering these principles in dealing with mentally ill clients can help you have a smooth process in law enforcement. It’s all about using yourself and your interpersonal skills to gain the trust of the individuals under your care. Use your power as a human being and become a top notch law enforcement officer!
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