With the holiday season in full swing, many of us are planning to spend time with family and friends. But this time of year isn’t joyful for everyone.
“Before I was a Mental Health Officer, I was a Patrol Officer.”
Josh McNeal is a Mental Health Officer with the Buda Police Department. Officer McNeal has been with Buda PD for three years, but his current job is a newer position for the department.
“The City gave the police department a grant funded position and the grant was to fund the Mental Health Officer position for a whole year before they decided whether or not to take it on or not,” said McNeal.
“Dealing with somebody with a mental illness was something we always trained on. Now that there is a mental health position, I can actually take more time with people and give them more resources.”
McNeal says the stigma that comes with mental illness can sometimes prevent people from seeking help.
“When I’m talking to a family or a person who is struggling with a mental illness and doesn’t feel like they are getting through to anybody, it’s because of those stigmas. It’s because they do not want to come out and say they have depression.”
Officer McNeal spent four years in the military as a Marine. It was during this time that he realized how much it mattered to have a support system.
“Being in the military and having awesome friends and leaders who got me through the hardest of times, it’s makes me wonder if the people of Buda are like me. Have they received help before? Maybe I can help them out. I will try my hardest to help that person out in their crisis or that moment where they are the weakest they have ever been.”
During his time as Mental Health Officer, he has responded to a number of calls.
"In Buda the holiday season does get more call volume for my type of job, for people in crisis,” said McNeal.
“We all have a shell around us and over time it cracks. One day that shell is going to break. The important thing to remember is that we all break. In that moment who are we going to reach out to and who are we going to call? Are going to take our own lives, or are we going to break through that and get help?”
Officer McNeal is working to help as many people as he can.
If there is something that you want to inquire about, or you are concerned about a family member, you can call the Buda Police Department. I can get into contact with you, so we can start communication on how to make mental illness something we can talk about."
You can watch the video version of this story here: Employee Spotlight Video Version - Josh McNeal