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Miami-Dade PD psychological services helps officers in need

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Police officers are on the front line when it comes to protecting the public but here in South Florida and across the country, they’ve been coming under attack, adding to the physical and mental stress they already on the job.

”It’s hard because all we want to do is help. We’ve got families and every one of us came into this job wanting to help,” said an officer who asked to be known as “Hank.”

While they go through extensive training that prepares them to keep communities safe and uphold the law, many are unprepared for the tragedies they encounter and how to deal with the aftermath.

”I think that some of the things that stick with me the most are calls that you do get there quite in time,” said another officer referred to as “Joe.”

And personal struggles compound the strain.

”The anxiety and depression got really bad and I had already made my suicide plan,” added a third officer who asked to be called “Robert.”

All three men, who spoke on the basis of anonymity, found help through the Miami-Dade Police Departments Psychological Services Bureau.

”It’s very unique. We’re one of the few agencies in the country that have an in-house staff of mental health professionals,” said Major Melissa Barosela, who oversees the unit

Started in the late 1970s with just one mental-health professional, the unit has grown steadily over the years to meet the demand for mental-health support.

Barosela said the volume of services they’re providing has increased by 60 percent just in the past couple of years.

”We’re definitely seeing a reduction in stigma where more officers are willing to come in, plus what they’re dealing with recently we think the numbers are attributable to that,” Barosela said.

The officers say the unit has unquestionably been a life saver for many.

”The door is always open here and it helped me find answers,” Joe said. “You have to put in the work for you to benefit but they’re here and I’m glad they’re here because I was in a pretty dark place,” he added.

”I’ve been coming here for over 18 months and things are better, life is better,” Robert said.

”I’m not the only one who probably wouldn’t be here if not for this unit,” Hank said.

Along with administrative staff, the Psychological Services Bureau has 7 full-time clinicians and is planning to add another in the near future.

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