Parliamentary Question: Psychological counselling for SAPS members




Date reply submitted : 1 June 2010
1395. Mrs DA Schäfer (DA) to ask the Minister of Police:

(1) Whether the SA Police Service (SAPS) provides any psychological counselling to police officers who are on active duty; if not, why not; if so, what form does this psychological assistance take;
(2) whether members of the SAPS have been informed of such assistance; if not, why not; if so, how is this assistance communicated to the officers;
(3) how many officers in each province received psychological counselling in the 2009-10 financial year;
(4) whether there is any compulsory psychological counselling for SAPS members who were involved in traumatic incidents; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?


1(1) The Employee Health and Wellness (EHW) of the South African Police Service (SAPS) follows an integrated approach utilising psychologists, psychometrists, social workers and chaplains to provide support and assistance to the employees of SAPS. Psychological counselling and therapy therefore only addresses a part of the reactive and proactive support interventions. Counselling is provided to all SAPS employees in line with the need identified. This could entail spiritual, social, trauma, work related and health and wellness counselling.

Counselling can also take the form of support groups and long term trauma interventions with high risk groups. In addition, the EHW call centre is available where employees receive telephonic counselling as well as a case referral system should there be a need for further interventions.

Support services, especially reactive services such as counselling and therapy, are available to all employees of the SAPS. Employees are entitled to receive such services whilst on duty. The EHW employees are available on standby duties to attend to any crisis incident and provide support. Standby duties entail availability of EHW to SAPS employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The SAPS is liaising with external stakeholders and non-governmental organisations to establish a partnership of open communication and understanding, as these organisations do serve family members of employees on a regular basis.

SAPS employees are continuously made aware of the EHW and the support in proactive and reactive services that can be provided. These awareness drives occur on a regular basis during station lectures, awareness days such as World Aids Day, World Disability Awareness Day, Mental Illness Month and Mental Wellness Month,
open days at divisions, SAPS day and intranet marketing. Targeted intervention awareness also occurs as guided by performance reports, prioritising areas with high crime incidents. Furthermore, trauma counselling and the Employee Assistance Programme is guided by a national instruction that has been circulated nationally.

The EHW also relies on the supervisor or commander who is in direct contact with the employee to report any employee who is experiencing difficulties. Supervisors and commanders are trained in the Initial Debriefing course that is compulsory to attend.

The employees as the principal persons responsible for their own well-being should request assistance from EHW if they experience difficulty in any aspect of their work or social environment. This principle is specifically directed towards SAPS employees that should take ownership of their well-being and development.
(3) The statistics include the following:

Trauma counselling

Psychological counselling/Psychotherapy

General counselling – work related, relationships

Spiritual counselling

Substance abuse and dependence


Suicide Prevention

Province 2009/2010

Head Office 3254

KwaZulu-Natal 3552

Mpumalanga 3157

Gauteng 6796

Limpopo 3142

Free State 2968

Northern Cape 490

Eastern Cape 3129

Western Cape 3245

North West 2052

Total 31 785 (16.7% of SAPS establishment of 190 283)
(4) No. Psychological counselling is viewed as a broad form of counselling and can provide support in any problem that an employee may have to deal with. Trauma counselling however is very specific and provided to SAPS employees after a critical incident or traumatic experience.

Trauma counselling is not compulsory within the SAPS as it will be an infringement on the basic human rights of the employee. Some employees also utilise external psychologists for trauma counselling by means of their medical aid benefits.

Trauma counselling or trauma debriefing is guided by the National Instruction 18/98 version (0.03) which provides the organisation with specific regulations in terms of trauma reporting, the rights of the employee such as receiving trauma counselling within official hours and confidentiality.

The provision of trauma counselling to employees is viewed as in the best interest of the organisation, however the employee may still make an informed decision whether to receive the service or not.

Reply to question 1395 approved by Minister