10 September 2021
Minister of State Nadine Dorries personally suffered the loss of a close relative through suicide. On World Suicide Prevention Day, the Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health has taken the opportunity to personally address PFEW members. The Minister, who previously trained as a nurse at Warrington General Hospital, also outlines what the government is doing to encourage more individuals to seek help.
"The past 18 months have been challenging and difficult for us all. And in particular for those on the frontline, including our brave police officers who still headed to work, not only to continue to tackle crime but also to police the pandemic in unprecedented circumstances.
"Officers are often the first on the scene to an array of situations, one of which can be supporting someone experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts. I am sure every officer can think of examples of this in their career.
"Suicide in particular is complex, and emotions can present differently in everyone. I know first-hand the pain, confusion and enduring agony it can cause after my cousin sadly died by suicide.
"But suicide is often preventable.
"It can be hard to know what to do, but it’s important everyone feels confident in starting conversations with somebody they may be worried about. Your actions, no matter how big or small, can make a difference.
"I would encourage everyone to take part in awareness training to help understand what people are going through and how to support them. Small talk can often create a sense of connection and hope for someone struggling.
"I am conscious officers often experience distressing situations which can have a lasting impact on their wellbeing or are living with a mental health condition themselves. It’s important to look after your own mental health and recognise how it may be impacted by your work.
"For anyone who needs more support, mental health services are open - you can speak to your GP or self-refer for NHS Talking Therapies - and all mental health trusts in England have 24/7 mental health helplines for access to immediate support.
"I know long-term action and early intervention is crucial to ensure good mental wellbeing.
"So as we look forwards, we are continuing to take steps to reduce self-harm and suicide for everyone. Our mental health recovery action plan - supported by an extra £500 million - includes dedicated funding for suicide prevention. Alongside this, our latest progress report against the National Suicide Prevention Strategy includes a refreshed cross-government suicide prevention workplan.
"More widely, the government is committed to delivering a new Police Covenant to provide long term support and care to police officers and their family members, to enable them to carry out their duties. We also continue to fund the National Police Wellbeing Service, which provides tools, resources and evidence-based guidance to support forces and individual officers with their wellbeing.
"I take the mental health of this country very seriously and there are an array of resources which I encourage you to look at. Our police officers are an integral part of our communities - just as you are there to help the public, we are here to help you – and I urge anyone who needs advice to reach out."