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Police Federation

#MHAW: It’s ok not to be ok

13 May 2021

On day four of Mental Health Awareness Week, Oscar Kilo Lead and former Chief Constable Andy Rhodes speaks out about his own challenges. He also reassures members ‘it’s ok not to be ok’.

In a video, Our Wellbeing Chair Hayley Aley asked him about his personal experience of mental health and wellbeing after 30 years’ service.

He replied: “I always talk about how things creep up on you, and certainly I had a bit of a crash in my personal life. The job is just full on, and wasn’t an environment where you would talk about struggling at home with a relationship issue. In my case I wasn’t even aware of this stress that was building up.

“My big problem has always been sleep. I have had poor sleep throughout my entire life, and when I’m stressed this just gets even worse.”

Andy joined Lancashire Police in 1991, spending much of his early career in local policing, firearms public order and search. He retired this year but continues to lead on the National Police Wellbeing Service, known as Oscar Kilo.

He said: “The nature of our work is incredibly challenging. I look at some of the young officers and the jobs they are going to – it would be abnormal not to be affected.

“There is a lot of really sad stuff that officers see everyday - awful stuff. The first thing to say is that it's ok to be affected because that’s a normal human response. But what the organisation has got to do is help officers if they start to struggle, because from time to time, our colleagues will.”

Andy referred to an officer with 20 years’ experience who was initially sceptical about seeking help with his mental health, until he experienced one job which ‘hit him like a steam train’. Thankfully the officer spoke out, and got the help he needed.

Oscar Kilo have recently launched a series of webinars and podcasts to help officers recognise the signs of emotional struggle in themselves and others and provides knowledge on how to support themselves and colleagues.

If you want to talk to someone right away about your mental health, here is a list of organisations you can call for immediate help.

Our Welfare Support Programme is also here to assist you and provides independent and confidential support to members with access to fully trained and accredited professionals.

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