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Mental health an emerging challenge in the police force

The National Police Service Commission has identified mental health issues as an emerging challenge affecting officers in the force.

Consequently, the Commission has deployed 59 counselors and social workers in the 47 counties in a bid to help the officers deal with psychological and mental health issues.

The Commission’s Vice Chair, Mrs Alice Otwala, said during the launch of Central Kenya National Police Service Special Medical Assessment Board in Nyeri.

Otwala urged police officers not to suffer in silence but instead seek the best medical care services as the Commission had put in place a comprehensive medical cover that caters for both their mental and physical health.

“We have provided an insurance cover which we are continually reviewing. We have gone as far as visiting the listed hospitals to see how the cover is being implemented,” said Otwala.

The National Police Service Commission in August this year launched a Medical Assessment Board which would address medical concerns of officers working in the disciplined forces.

The Board has been working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Inspector General of Police, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Administration Police Service and the respective Regional Police Commanders to identify officers with ill health, mental health issues and injuries that affect their performance.

The boards have been launched in Nairobi, Rift Valley, Eldoret, Nyanza, Garissa and Nyeri regions.

Otwala acknowledged that many officers were living with ailments and disabilities that they picked up while working in the service. She said that the board has identified 800 officers who have been found to be unwell.

She said in line with the Commission’s vision of ensuring that all officers get fair treatment, they were working on plans to reassign officers with disabilities acquired in the line of duty to perform other responsibilities within the force.

“Some of them can be treated and get back to work but some of them are in states that require professional help. For such cases, we are working with our insurers to see how best we can help them. For those who are not able to continue with police work, they can be redeployed to other duties,” said the Commission’s vice chair.

A biometric registration drive done by the National Police Service in 2019 revealed that there are 101,288 police officers serving in 1,005 police stations in Kenya against a population of about 54 million (2020). The UN recommended police -civilian ratio is 1:450.

By Wangari Mwangi and Peris Wanjiru

 

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