1 March 2023
Police Officers Need More Proactive Mental Health Support
Police officers attend hundreds of traumatic incidents over their careers and they need more proactive mental-health support, Leicestershire Police Federation has said.
New figures show that policing is taking its toll on officers’ mental health, with police officers in England having more than 730,000 sick days last year – up from 320,000 in 2012/13.
Leicestershire Police Federation Chair Adam Commons said: “Mental health is something that is close to my heart. I’m quite open that I’ve suffered with mental health problems in the past, and it’s something that I’m trying to push within the force and our occupational health unit.
“We are better at recognising and treating mental health conditions as a society now, which is brilliant. But our police officers, over the course of their career, are subject to hundreds of traumatic incidents. We shouldn’t be waiting to treat it when it surfaces, we should be proactive. We should be offering clinical supervision, check-ins, to say to people, ‘Are you okay?’.
“Our cops are the best in the world at speaking to members of the public and saying, ‘I think you need some help. Something’s not right’. But we’re the worst ones at recognising it in ourselves.
“Sometimes it takes somebody saying, ‘Actually I don’t think that’s normal, the way that you’re feeling. Let’s get you some help and someone to talk to’. Because if we can head off more of this stuff, we’re not going to have the bigger, longer-term problem of lots of very, very broken police officers.”
He continued: “Changes are happening in our occupational health unit, so I’m really hopeful that we’re going to have an even better service going forward.
“Officers need more than just an appointment to say, ‘Yeah, we’ll put you on restricted duties and we’ll see how you feel in a month or so’. I say to the force, you might not ever see a return on paper if we put money into it, but you will have a better-looked-after workforce, you will get them back to work quicker, they will be left feeling more supported, and that is one of the best things you can do for your workforce.”
Adam reiterated that if officers were struggling, they needed to talk to somebody. He said: “Whether it’s your line manager, or the Federation. Just get the ball rolling. We can help you and start you on the path to getting support and making sure that the force is fully aware.”