Columnists

Killer cop raises mental stress issues

BENEDICT Tembo.

Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
EMOTIONS have been deep and wide over the killing of two people and wounding of two others by a jilted policeman who closed the traumatic two-day incident by shooting himself dead.
The incident in Lusaka’s PHI may have closed for the policeman Jackson Mwanza, but it has opened an array of questions that beg for answers.
As the nation is still trying to get to grips with the gruesome ordeal, it is worth noting that the conduct of Constable Jackson Mwanza could be a culmination of deep emotion, the kind that many other people go through.
One of the lessons to be drawn from this incident is that society doesn’t pay adequate attention to concerns of depression until it is too late.
This is so not only among men and women in uniform, but also among workers in other sectors, especially those that are demanding and stressful.
No amount of training can adequately prepare one for some of the stress that one goes through either with a lover, a family member, neighbours in a community or society in general.
Mwanza’s case is unlikely to be an isolated one, neither will it be the last one. Others could be facing similar stress but it is just that they are able to handle such emotional pressure.
The concern though, even for those that are seemingly able to control extreme emotions, is that they could be bottling up their stress which could one day explode with devastating effects.
Mwanza’s case should stir more action among employers on managing the emotions of their workers not only in the military and service organisations, but also in other sectors. Stress affects all.
Monitoring of staff for emotional stress should start at recruitment. Potential employers must have experts to determine the state of mind of people they are getting on board.
The question though is, how many employers do this or even think about having a psychologist to interview a potential employee. Those that might think about this, most likely, ignore the need because it could be considered too costly or something they can live with.
Unfortunately, in some instances, this could be the cause of not only poor work performance but also a high risk to the employee? his or her workmates and people the firm serves.
Companies that are serious about having workers of ‘sound mind’ could disqualify one at recruitment or employ him or her but take them through the required mental therapy.
Like all other health matters, one could be in perfect health physically and mentally at recruitment but ailments could creep in later in life. So one’s emotional challenges could start many years after starting work.
This is why it is important that monitoring of workers’ health is continuous. If anything, such monitoring should be intensified after a worker begins to get more responsibilities both at work and at home.
Mental health practitioners should step up their efforts to provide their services to more workers.
Their services are needed. It is just that many people do not know that they need mental therapy.
Many would rather keep to themselves and try to shut out others. But it is usually in such moments of increased isolation that their minds become the “devil’s workshop”.
They begin to harbour all sorts of thoughts which could include inflicting harm on those they hate and even suicide or both.
We have had cases of parents poisoning their children and then committing suicide because of broken love relationships. Such people need mental therapy.
In some instances, it is not the employer who could identify one’s emotional low, but a member of the family or a friend. But one needs to be aware of the tell-tale signs.
There are few people who will admit that they are in need of such mental therapy, but with concerted efforts, the stigma around this health challenge could be overcome and Zambia would be a safer and more joyful place for all.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.

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