n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Knowledge and skills police officers need to manage mental health care users

Supplement 4
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


A declaration by the Mental Health Care Act (Act 17 of 2002) authorised police officers to assist mental health care users (MHCUs) they come across and needed help. As such, the purpose of the study was to explore the knowledge and skills of police officers regarding mental illness and the handling of MHCUs. This descriptive, quantitative study involved a random sample of 45 police officers aged 18-65 years from a population of 136 police officers in Mdantsane; a township situated about 6 km outside East London, South Africa. A self administered questionnaire was used for data collection. Findings revealed that positive responses regarding police knowledge and skills thereof were less than 95%. Police officers (100%) indicated that they needed training in mental health aspects including the handling of MHCUs. Six (n=6) (13%) claimed that police officers do not possess skills for handling MHCUs, (n=7) (16%) alleged that mentally ill persons should be treated with respect, (n=3) (7%) of the police officers alleged that police officers should use minimal force, (n=2) (4%) urged police officers to be very careful when working with MHCUs and (n=5) (11%) reserved their comments. There is need to create mental health care programmes are needed to address the needs of MHCUs as well as those of police officers.

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