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Expenditure on psychological supports for people working in policing reaches highest level this year

11th December 2022

Almost €2.3m has been spent on providing psychological support to gardaí and staff dealing with trauma or distressing evidence as well as other mental health issues since 2020.

The force said they had paid around €867,000 to provide psychological and psychiatric services to their employees.

This covered the cost of 1,934 individual sessions with 600 taking place in the first ten months of this year, according to records provided by An Garda Síochána.

A further €1.4m was paid for an independent counselling service, which has logged more than 11,400 calls since the beginning of 2020.

That spending also included the provision of a specialised psychological support service for those most likely to encounter distressing material in their day-to-day work.

The service is available to personnel attached to the computer crime bureau, the national protective services bureau, divisional protective services units, and specialist child interviewers.

All of them can have to deal with graphic images, videos, and evidence of child sexual or physical abuse as part of their duties.

An Garda Síochána said there had been 842 counselling sessions of this type in 2021, the first year of the specialised service’s operation.

There have been another 1,177 individual sessions so far this year, according to information that was released under FOI.

Expenditure on psychological supports for people working in policing has reached its highest level this year.

In the first ten months of the year, there was a bill of €780,000 for mental health supports, which has already exceeded the €774,000 spent throughout the entirety of 2021.

Mental health issues are a significant issue for An Garda with nearly 480 members referred for psychiatric or psychological assessment, or other mental health care in 2020 and 2021.

The constant toll of stress and anxiety on gardaí led to the loss of at least 11,176 working days in those two years, according to official figures.

An Garda Síochána said staff welfare was of paramount importance for the force with an extensive network of supports available for employees.

This included a front line peer support network, which makes trained garda members available to help a colleague who has experienced a traumatic incident in the workplace.

A 24/7 independent counselling service is also available for all gardaí, civilian staff, and reserves.

A spokesman said: “This confidential service provides counselling on a wide range of work and personal related issues including critical incidents, trauma, financial, relationships, bereavement, stress, conflict, and health.”

He said that at the end of last year, gardaí had also launched a wellbeing app that had been created specifically for employees of An Garda Síochána.

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