National Suicide Prevention Month - Buda Police Department Mental Health Officers VIDEO
“With it being National Suicide Prevention Month, I think that as a mental health officer, it’s very vital to talk to the community anytime that I can.”
Josh McNeal has been a mental health officer with the Buda Police Department for three years.
“I think that the unknown scares people so much and that scares me too," said Officer McNeal.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been a particularly stressful time for a lot of people.
"Not having the answers to what is going to happen is very stressful. It causes anxiety. Some people that have never had anxiety before are getting it, between losing jobs and being on unemployment. It is extremely hard to try and remedy that, but I listen to what they are talking about and if there is anything I can help them with, I do it.”
Officer McNeal, along with Mental Health Officer Martin Rodriguez, both respond to calls related to mental health. The goal is to help connect people with the appropriate resources.
“That is why there is somebody like me here. That is why there are physicians and medical professionals in the field that are just as passionate as I am, but they also can help you on the medical side of things. And I can try to help by just keeping a pulse on the community and seeing what resources you may need. I have contacts with different resources in the mental health area.”
If you or someone you know is struggling, Officer McNeal says one of the best things you can do is talk about it, but he realizes there is not a one size fits all solution for mental illness. In serious situations, it is important to reach out to a medical professional.
“The mind is a beautiful thing, but it is very hard to pick through. There are a lot of times when I say to take small steps, do things that you love, and enjoy hobbies that you remember or feel passionate about. But if you are feeling depressed, or if you have a mental illness that is making you not operate at full capacity, that is going to be extremely hard to do. There is not one way to help everybody. There is not a tailor made size fits all for mental health. But that is why if you are struggling, you have to talk about it, and if you need to talk about to a police officer in the community or a family friend, that is what we are here for, to make sure if we can tailor make something for you that is what we are going to do.”
If you are struggling and are afraid or embarrassed to reach out, Officer McNeal has this message.
“I can tell you that you are not alone and there are people out there like myself that care enough to help. And if you give me a chance, or if you give somebody a chance, even if it is family and friends to talk to about it, I think you will find that you are not alone and you can get help.”
You can reach Buda Police Department’s Mental Health Officers by calling Hays County Dispatch at 512-393-7896.
However, if you need immediate assistance and it is an emergency, please dial 9-1-1.
To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, please call 1-800-273-8255.