Derbyshire Police Federation

Officers’ mental health has to be treated seriously

6 February 2020

It is time mental health in policing is treated as seriously as physical safety, says Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton.

His comments come as the Police Federation of England and Wales today, which is Time To Talk Day, launches a wellbeing campaign encouraging members to talk about their mental health.

The campaign is being called Hear ‘Man Up’, Think ‘Man Down’.

“This campaign urges officers to look out for signs that colleagues might be struggling with their mental health,” says Tony, “When you work alongside someone you can tell when something is not quite right and it is important that we act on these signs. It is important that we talk to one another and offer a listening ear to anyone who might be having mental health difficulties.

“Police officers have protective clothing and equipment and receive training to keep them safe from physical harm. But their psychological wellbeing and mental health is often overlooked.

“While other people run away from danger, police officers are the ones running in the opposite direction, seeking to help the public and deal with critical incidents. Officers see, hear and experience trauma every day: things that are not easy to forget and which can affect officers’ physical and mental health.

“Those suffering from mental health issues may be the last to realise there is a problem - or accept help. But those closest to them often notice a change in behaviour first so we all need to be aware, look for the signs in our colleagues and offer our support by encouraging them to access the support that is available to them.” 

In addition to encouraging officers to talk, the campaign will aim to raise awareness of what signs to look out for and where officers can get help if they need it.

Belinda Goodwin, the Federation’s national wellbeing lead, said: “It’s about joining up the wealth of Federation support available locally and nationally.”

The campaign follows a study by the Federation’s research and policy support department which revealed the extent to which officers are struggling with their mental wellbeing.

To date it has been difficult to determine the actual number of police officers who take their own lives. Police forces have not routinely collected this data and, although the Office for National Statistics (ONS) collects data based on coroners’ verdicts, the figures often exclude either non-residents and/or PCSOs. It is also unclear whether retired or former police officers are routinely included in the figures.

Official ONS figures show that 66 police officers took their own lives between 2015-17.

Although significant improvements in mental health support have been made in recent years, the Federation continues to press the Government and forces to provide earlier, better and more consistent support.

As well as concentrating on mental health, the campaign will focus on physical and financial wellbeing.

The Federation has linked up with Police Mutual to highlight financial issues in a monthly newsletter called Let’s Talk Money. The newsletter will concentrate on a different issue each month for a year.

Officers are being encouraged to support the campaign and to help promote the message that it’s OK to talk. Join in the campaign on social media using the hashtags #ManUpManDown and #PoliceWelfare.

Find out more.

 

 

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