As the effects of a pay freeze, Covid-19 and ongoing shortfalls in resources make themselves felt, South Wales Police Federation has called for a more preventative approach to officer mental health.
This would involve tracking the number of traumatic incidents officers have attended and checking up on them – something most forces don’t yet do.
Federation branch chair Steve Treharne said: “Offering support at the first signs of stress can save a great deal of time and avoid a lot of mental and emotional distress further down the road.
“Thanks to a lack of manpower and resources, officers are taking on more than ever. Many are attending traumatic incident after traumatic incident with no chance to process what they’ve experienced, and nobody checking up on them afterwards.
“There’s definitely more of a culture now around offering wellbeing support for officers who are struggling, but we now need to take that care and offer it to those who are not yet at crisis point.
“You shouldn’t have to get to rock bottom before you’re offered help.”
A recent Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) scheme pre-emptively checking in on Fed reps met with success.
The scheme, which is still in its pilot stage, aims to help representatives balance their full-time role with their Federation responsibilities.
It does this by helping reps identify potential stressors and offering helpful, practical advice on coping with the demands of the role.
National Federation wellbeing chair Hayley Aley suggested to attendees at the Emergency Services Show in Birmingham this week that forces record similar data and use it to offer practical support to those who may be struggling.
“If the organisation could work with that information, take the time to speak to the officer, check in and give them that support we would be pre-emptively tackling the problem,” she said.