As societal attitudes toward mental health continue to evolve, there is a growing recognition of the importance of addressing mental well-being in high-stress professions. In South Africa, the private security industry, comprising approximately 10,000 companies and nearly 2.7 million registered personnel, is undergoing a transformation to prioritize the physical, mental, and emotional health of its workforce.
Given the prevalence of violent crimes in the country, such as murder and rape, the well-being of security officers is seen as crucial to their effectiveness in carrying out their duties. Industrial psychologist Dr. Gerhard Schoeman emphasizes that individuals facing life-threatening situations naturally experience heightened stress, and lacking coping mechanisms can have detrimental effects on both the individuals and the broader community.
Recognizing the need for comprehensive training, companies within the security industry are focusing on equipping their personnel with the necessary coping mechanisms. Stress management and the ability to handle traumatic situations are skills that require time and dedication to develop. The emergence of eLearning is playing a pivotal role in providing widespread access to wellness training for security officers across the country.
Michael Hanly, Managing Director of South African learning solutions provider New Leaf Technologies, highlights the advantages of eLearning in this context. The flexibility of online training allows security personnel to access wellness programs at their convenience, crucial for individuals with irregular schedules. Privacy is another significant benefit, particularly in an industry where appearing resilient is often a daily requirement.
Hanly emphasizes the importance of tracking progress in wellness training. Modern learning management systems, such as the aNewSpring platform, offer diverse resources, including video modules on stress management and interactive sessions on mindfulness. To ensure the effectiveness of these programs, security companies are advised to choose learning management systems based on specific criteria, including employee feedback, absenteeism rates, well-being metrics, and performance metrics.
In a field as demanding as security work, the toll on individuals should not be underestimated. Hanly stresses that introducing accessible and formal wellness programs is a positive step toward creating a mentally resilient security workforce capable of making sound decisions in emergency situations.