16 April 2020
To help support the mental health of officers doing an extraordinary job during this unprecedented time, the Police Federation has sought expert advice on how they can manage the difficult situations and feelings they face.
Today (April 16) the Federation has 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 understandably 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.
Brett Grange, from Greater Manchester Police Federation, said: “This video is with an expert in the field of police trauma, she gives some practical advice for the current situation. The message is important: take time for a brew, have a short period between jobs which you feel were traumatic and use the techniques described to help you manage it.
“The force has support in the background like Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) and the services from the occupational health unit (OHU), these can be accessed via your line manager or directly yourself.”
Brett added: “The best system to manage you wellbeing is to talk and support each other, managers, continue to make time to speak to staff and like Dr Miller says, it doesn’t have to be all new age and zen, a simple well done can help our officers feel valued and supported. It’s fair to say this is an unpredictable, unknown situation which can challenge the best of us at times, remember this and be kind to your colleagues as we have a duty to support each other.”
The full video can be viewed here https://youtu.be/JcLo2qKcNxA
In the video, 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.