Police leaders adopt uniform approach to officers’ mental health

Don’t suffer in silence. That’s the message from South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne to members as police chiefs pledge to adopt a new uniform approach to supporting officers’ mental health.

Steve hopes the pledge, alongside a new package of support for officers, will help break down the barriers around seeking mental health support.

He said: “Our members often exposed to some of the most difficult situations on an almost daily basis, and we know that their experiences of policing the pandemic have also been challenging.

“By the very nature of their role their mental health, as well as their physical health, can be impacted.

“Which is why we welcome this commitment from police chiefs to ensure that our members’ mental health is and will remain a priority. I hope it helps to end the stigma around seeking support

“And I would urge members not to suffer in silence. Make that call, speak to a Fed rep. Get the help you need and deserve.”

Steve’s comments follow The Royal Foundation’s Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium, which saw 200 leaders from across police, fire, ambulance, and search and rescue from the four nations come together for the first time to address the mental health of their workforces.

National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chair Martin Hewitt signed the Mental Health at Work Commitment endorsing six standards, including declaring mental health is, and will remain, a strategic priority, and encouraging forces to promote an open culture around mental health.

The symposium saw the launch of a Blue Light Together package of mental health support for the emergency services, developed by The Royal Foundation and other partner organisations.

Through a new Blue Light Together website from mental health charity Mind, information and advice to help emergency responders with their mental health has been shared, including real life stories and tips from colleagues working in the field and guides for employers so they can support their teams with their wellbeing.

Working in partnership with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), The Royal Foundation is also funding the creation of a directory of therapists who have experience of specialising in addressing the complex mental health needs of emergency responders.

The event included a live panel session involving senior emergency services leaders who spoke about their personal experiences with mental health struggles, alongside speeches by Dame Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Mind CEO Paul Farmer and The Duke of Cambridge.

Federation national chair John Apter, who attended the event, said: “Policing and other emergency services have talked a lot about how they are supporting the mental health of their workforce for a number of years, and there have been some improvements.

“The pledge that has been agreed to by the NPCC is a massive step forward, but chiefs have got to make sure it delivers something tangible as too many colleagues are being failed on daily basis; I have spoken to officers who are truly broken, and on many occasions this was completely avoidable.

“Rather than continuing to stick plasters over gaping wounds, it is key the service focuses on prevention.

“In policing, we cannot get away from attending traumatic incidents, but we can do more to ensure there is better support for them and their families, and better training in place for supervisors and managers so they can recognise and address the issues.”

Find information, ideas and support to help look after your mental health at Blue Light Together.