Local law enforcement agencies stress importance of mental health

[anvplayer video=”5140295″ station=”998122″]

VALENCIA COUNTY, N.M. — Law enforcement agencies are working to create an open conversation about the importance of mental health.

“It has to be something that’s viewed as important from the very top,” Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina said. “I’ve been very open to our officers to the fact that every six months I sit down with somebody for my mental health.”

APD has been working to focus on mental health. It is not just APD, Bosque Farms Police Chief Andrew Owen said his department has been working to break the stigma of mental health concerns in law enforcement.

“The need is, as shown itself through over the years, being a military veteran, and having a lot of our officers as military veterans, you know, dealing with the different situations that we’ve had to deal with in that realm. And then continuing on our service to our fellow man,” Owens said.

The department works with the Public Safety Psychology Group, which specializes in providing care for first responders.

Chief Medina said he’s seen officers resign because they need a break. He’s hoping by making mental health a priority, officers can stick around longer.

“I think we got to make sure we take the, you know, the stigmatism of mental health away and make sure that everybody knows that it’s proper and it’s a good thing to talk to somebody and get help,” he said.

Chief Owens said he wants those who serve and protect to be cared for too.

“That promotes the fact that they want to stay in an area where they feel that they’re not just a servant to the community, but they’re a part of the community because they’re being cared for just as much as they’re caring for our citizens,” he said.