16 May 2023
Two officers from Derbyshire who have used the confidential service spoke about its benefits and how the Welfare Support Programme (WSP) has helped them.
“The WSP is there for you to assist and support you with your mental health, or if you need to discuss things that are challenging in your life. It can be anything from bereavement, through to the everyday anxiety side of things”, explained officer one.
“One benefit of using the WSP is that you don't feel alone. There's always someone there that will walk you through anything and advise you when you need help. If you are struggling and going through a difficult time you know you are not alone,” he added.
Local Federation branches can refer members to the service for practical and mental support with clinical assessments and dedicated counselling with fully trained, accredited professionals. Follow-on specialist support will also be provided where needed.
The WSP is designed to complement the services already available, however, sometimes there are reasons officers do not want to approach their forces, whether that be down to trust issues, or having to wait several months until they are referred.
“The Federation came through for me where work, despite all their promises of supporting my mental health, did not help. For three months I was desperately requesting help and I got none at all from work. The Federation stepped up and they arranged for me to speak to someone from the WSP,” commented officer two.
“My support worker was absolutely brilliant and so supportive from the very start. He was so easy to talk to and it very much felt like talking to a colleague who fully understood what I was going through.
“I was undergoing the medical retirement procedure which is incredibly stressful. My support worker walked me through step by step and explained everything, which then in turn took away a lot of worry and made me feel much more comfortable,” explained officer two.
When experiencing a difficult time, the first step is acknowledging what you are going through and then seeking help.
“With any issues or situations in life, the hardest thing is to accept you need help. I think that is the biggest thing. Once you get over that first boundary, it is actually a bit easier.
“Many do not want to be tagged or labelled as weak, especially in an establishment such as the police. You don't want to be looked at and be frowned upon by your peers or other people that you work with.
“If I had a broken leg, I would seek medical help and have a plaster put on it, but because you can't see mental health issues, they are easier to ignore. You just need to take the first step and once that first step is done, it just gets easier and easier,” officer one encouraged.
At least 500 members are being given timely, ongoing support from Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) who has provided provisions of the WSP since December 2020.
DMWS is an independent charity providing medical welfare to the armed forces, veterans, NHS staff and emergency services.
If you are a subscribing PFEW member and would like more information, please contact your local Federation branch.