Photo by Tony Cece

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mental Health Workers and Police Officer Training Day

After a pancake and sausage breakfast we headed about an hour from base to a town called Githunguri.  We separated into two different groups rather than three today.  It was a blessing and a joy to impart presentations and teach practical skills to police officers and medical professionals. 

Dr. Harris-Keyes’ group joined Dr. Keyes’ group and presented on Substance Abuse and Human trafficking to Medical professionals.  The professionals seem to have had very limited knowledge about substance abuse and how to effectively treat it. They were very interested in the information that we presented to them and expressed a strong desire to learn. After the first presentation, the group was broken down into three small groups. During the small groups, it became evident that Christianity and religion are welcomed topics. Most members saw effective substance abuse treatment being led primarily by pastors and the church. It was also evident that most of the males saw it as their place to lead the conversation whereas the women tended to be more hesitant in speaking. This was a consideration when leading the group. A second lecture on alcohol abuse brought to light spiritual myths that many believed. It was significant that the small group felt safe enough to share personal stories regarding substance abuse and sexual addiction issues. In the end they were able to take home practical information regarding substance abuse and human trafficking and seem eager to share their knowledge with their communities.

Dr. Reese’s group worked with police officers and focused on presentation topics such as Crisis intervention, PTSD, compassion fatigue, and self care.    We were able to break out into smaller groups and get a better understanding of the individual issues that each officer was faced with on a day-to-day basis.   Each of their stories were filled with unique stressors and challenges, such as not being fully briefed on overwhelming assignments and constant required transfers that keep many away from their families.  They do not have access to mental health care or an outlet to process their traumatic experiences or develop strong support groups.  Coping skills was an area they really needed practical training in to develop healthy responses and resiliency.  Many officers felt empowered by the techniques they were taught today.    Our contact, who was a local psychologist, was very surprised with the response and openness that the officers portrayed throughout the day. 

During our evening debriefing we learned that our contact Patrick from last year was able to implement many of the techniques and trainings from last year.  He has seen tremendous growth in his church and in his communication skills.  

- Jen, Kelly, Maria, and Sarah

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