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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Expert offers tips on caring for mental health during coronavirus pandemic

16 April 2020

To help support the mental health of officers doing an extraordinary job during this unprecedented time, the Federation has sought expert advice on how they can manage the difficult situations and feelings they face.

Today (April 16) we have released a video featuring Dr Jess Miller, Director of Research at Police Care UK, providing practical advice for frontline officers policing the Covid-19 pandemic.

As more officers are called-out to recover the deceased victims of Covid-19, there are concerns over the impact this repeat exposure will have on their mental health.

There is also a shared anxiety amongst officers who are worried about safety of their families and loved ones as they risk bringing home the virus after each shift.

Dr Miller, who is also a Neuropsychologist at Police Care UK and the University of Cambridge has included various techniques which officers can try to combat negative memories, feeling overwhelmed as well as encouraging them to be open and honest with line managers.

Police Federation of England and Wales’ National Vice-Chair Ché Donald said: “Police officers operate in a pressure cooker environment and are exposed to all sorts of trauma from helping victims of domestic violence to road traffic collisions – the list is endless. That’s standard policing.

“But we are now in unprecedented times and we have never experienced anything like this before.

“What is worrying for my colleagues on the frontline is attending significantly more sudden deaths of Covid-19 victims and what impact this repeat exposure will have on their mental health.

“We also watch the news every night and see the death toll which naturally brings on anxiety about the safety of their families. The thought of bringing the virus home to loved ones at the end of a shift is terrifying. These fears and anxieties are echoed by the public.”

A recent study headed by Dr Miller revealed more than one in five police officers are currently suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Mr Donald added: “I hope these useful techniques can help my colleagues handle these difficult emotional and physical challenges. It is crucial to remember you are not in this alone and these experiences and feelings are felt by all even though some may be better at hiding this.

“The Federation will continue to support members through this incredibly difficult period, making sure their voices are heard and ensuring they receive the right protection to keep themselves and the public safe,” he concluded.