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29 November 2021
Hertfordshire Police Federation chair Geoff Bardell hopes a move by police chiefs to adopt a uniform set of standards for officers’ mental health support will break down barriers and improve access.
Geoff says policing is a unique job that can impact on officers’ mental health, and he’s urging members experiencing issues to seek help and support.
Geoff was speaking after The Royal Foundation’s Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium in London, which saw 200 leaders from across police, fire, ambulance, and search and rescue from the four nations come together for the first time to address the mental health of their workforces.
He said: “I welcome the commitment by police chiefs to make mental health a strategic priority and this commitment must now be backed up with actions.
“Policing is a job like no other and we’ve all been under huge stresses and strains throughout the pandemic. It’s bound to have an impact on some officers and they may be experiencing issues such stress, anxiety and depression.
“And, of course, we all have our lives outside of work and issues at home can also impact our emotional and mental wellbeing. So I’d encourage our members to seek the appropriate help and support early – before they reach crisis point.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council 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.
A Blue Light Together package of mental health support for the emergency services, developed by The Royal Foundation and other partner organisations, was also launched.
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 symposium included a live panel session involving senior emergency services leaders who spoke about their personal experiences with mental health struggles, alongside speeches by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Dame Cressida Dick, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Mind’s CEO Paul Farmer and The Duke of Cambridge.
Federation national chair John Apter, 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.