18 May 2022
This year’s Outstanding Contribution to Women in Policing Award has been presented to a pioneer for Perinatal Mental Health. Sergeant Jennifer Sharpling of the Metropolitan Police Service was awarded the accolade at the PFEW Annual Conference in Manchester.
Jennifer balances her busy policing career alongside being a mum of four, whilst devoting much of her time to maternity-related issues in the workplace. Jennifer is incredibly passionate about looking after the welfare of police officers and staff.
Jennifer said: “After suffering from significant maternal mental health issues following the birth of my first child in 2016, I found that there was no specific support for police officers or staff anywhere for these conditions.
“I now lead a national team of officers from across the country and we are currently writing a national policy as part of a larger document, which will be sent to all forces with information on how best to support their staff.
“I also work closely with professors on research projects with the view to really understand the impact on perinatal mental health issues on police officers and staff, which is a unique occupation.
“I have written several blogs sharing personal experiences and organised awareness sessions with the NSPCC for National Maternal Mental Health Week. I run a peer support network and have supported a number of officers whilst they navigate themselves around the changes of becoming a parent and how that can affect a person and their mental health.
“I am always excited to raise awareness of these conditions that affect 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 nationally.”
As the National Lead for Perinatal Mental Health in Policing, which is a workstream under The National Family Support Group, Jennifer travels to visit forces, giving talks to raise awareness around perinatal mental health and her personal road to recovery. She runs the National Team and is working to ensure that there is support for all men and women in policing when it comes to Perinatal Mental Health. As part of her work with the Family Support Group, Jennifer has set up the BlueMinds social media account, which supports officers and their partners within policing who are experiencing peri and post-natal mental health conditions.
Jennifer is also the co-founder of #BleepKind, set up in relation to Job-Related Fitness Tests. She saw how officers were frequently given advice about how they can improve their fitness and change their mindset, whilst regrettably also regularly receiving ridicule on public forums?
In her own journey to overcome the bleep test, she found practical ideas, emotional kindness, and support in a variety of different places and so decided that she wanted to create a one-stop shop for people who are looking for training ideas, psychological strategies, and support from like-minded individuals.
The #BleepKind vision is to promote a culture which prioritises health and wellbeing through kindness to yourself and to others. Through this, Jennifer is able to provide officers with both understanding and support, to ensure our members are ready to meet and exceed identified levels of operational fitness. #Bleepkind now has over 2k members nationwide.