30 November 2021
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton hopes a new package of mental health support for police officers will help encourage members to seek help when they need it.
Tony welcomed a commitment by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to a uniform set of standards for supporting the mental health of officers.
He said: “People are the most valuable resource of any organisation and the day-to-day experiences and challenges of policing mean that our members’ physical and mental health can be severely affected.
“Officers have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic, having to respond to high-pressure and emotionally-challenging situations, conflict and unmanageable levels of demand. There is little wonder all that eventually takes its toll.
“That is why we welcome the pledge by police chiefs to ensure the mental health of our members is and will remain a priority – but it needs to be backed up with deeds and actions.
“And I would say to our members that if you feel like your mental health is suffering then please reach out, speak to a Fed rep and find the help you need and deserve.”
Tony was speaking after The Royal Foundation’s Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium, which saw 200 leaders from across fire, ambulance, police, and search and rescue from all four nations come together for the first time to address the mental health of their workforces.
NPCC chair Martin Hewitt signed the “Mental Health at Work Commitment” endorsing six standards, including declaring mental health is, and will remain, a strategic priority, and encouraging forces to promote an open culture around mental health.
The symposium saw the launch of a Blue Light Together package of mental health support for the emergency services, developed by The Royal Foundation and other partner organisations.
Through a new Blue Light Together website from mental health charity Mind, information and advice to help emergency responders with their mental health has been shared including real life stories and tips from colleagues working in the field and guides for employers so they can support their teams with their wellbeing.
Working in partnership with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), The Royal Foundation is also funding the creation of a directory of therapists who have experience of specialising in addressing the complex mental health needs of emergency responders.
The event included a live panel session involving senior emergency services leaders who spoke about their personal experiences with mental health struggles, alongside speeches by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Mind CEO Paul Farmer and The Duke of Cambridge.
John Apter, national Federation chair, who attended the event, said: “Policing and other emergency services have talked a lot about how they are supporting the mental health of their workforce for a number of years, and there have been some improvements.
“The pledge that has been agreed to by the NPCC is a massive step forward, but chiefs have got to make sure it delivers something tangible as too many colleagues are being failed on daily basis; I have spoken to officers who are truly broken, and on many occasions this was completely avoidable.
“Rather than continuing to stick plasters over gaping wounds, it is key the service focuses on prevention.
“In policing, we cannot get away from attending traumatic incidents, but we can do more to ensure there is better support for them and their families, and better training in place for supervisors and managers so they can recognise and address the issues.”
Find information, ideas and support to help look after your mental health at Blue Light Together.