Increased workloads harms mental resilience
15 November 2017
PFEW's Che Donald with Lt Col Richard Dorney
Equality Liaison Officers (ELOs) have been given a lesson in maintaining morale and mental resilience from a former British Army officer.
Lt Col Richard Dorney MBE addressed Police Federation delegates in Leatherhead on the second day of the Equality Liaison Officers Seminar. He touched on his 38 year military career including the trauma he experienced over the death of a colleague in Northern Ireland.
He said: “At the time I didn’t want to deal with it so I parked it and focused on the mission. It affected me later. I knew I wasn’t right but I would never have put my hand up and say so.”
However he went on to lead Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) training on behalf of the army and now speaks on the topic in retirement. He posed the question ‘what is resilience?’ and defined it as the ability to cope in the face of setbacks and difficulties.
Coping mechanisms were discussed, including the need to talk through problems with a trusted colleague, the importance of rest and sleep, setting small achievable goals and the value of maintaining a positive self-image.
Mr Dorney touched on the findings of the Federation’s Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey, which highlight the prevalence of sickness, presenteeism, leaveism and low morale. He also spoke about ‘burnout’ – a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. This is very relevant given the state of modern policing with increased workloads and reduced numbers of officers.
He added: “Self-awareness is the key. It is important to know when your mood is becoming low and to know the triggers. Speak to someone you know and trust – just getting it off your chest is really powerful. The key is noticing the effect of your behaviour and actions on other people.”
Earlier in the day, the seminar heard from Emma Hawksworth of law firm Slater and Gordon on disability discrimination, focusing on a case where the Government Legal Service (GLS) were taken to an employment tribunal over multiple choice questions in their applications process, which were found to disadvantage an applicant with Asperger Syndrome.
Delegates also heard from Slater and Gordon about best practice when applying to the Police Medical Appeal Board (PMAB) on behalf of an officer. PFEW national equality lead Hayley Aley also briefed the meeting on the forthcoming Federation elections and the rationale for being representative of the membership locally and nationally.
The seminar previously received a talk on suicide prevention.