Police pledge to support mental health

Politics / Wed 9th Dec 2015 at 01:22pm

Police HealthESSEX Police has become the latest emergency service to sign the mental health charity Mind’s ‘Blue Light Time to Change Pledge’. It commits the force to challenging mental health stigma and looking after officers, civilian staff, teams and members of the public.

Created by the national mental health charity Mind, the pledge is designed to encourage emergency service employers and volunteer groups to improve mental health awareness within their organisations. It is hoped raising awareness will create a working environment where staff feel able to speak openly about any issues and seek support when they need it as well as being able to look out for colleagues and members of the public.

The pledge is a commitment to a programme of activity around increasing awareness and support and was signed by the Chief Constable, the Police and Crime Commissioner and officers and staff from across Essex Police at a ceremony at force headquarters today.

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said: “People who work in the emergency services are ordinary people asked every day to do extraordinary jobs. We wouldn’t be human if that didn’t test us mentally as well as physically but while we will always experience trauma and stress on the job, what we can change is how we support each other in dealing with and recovering from it.

“I’m proud that Essex Police has signed the pledge, but what’s more important is that when we put mental health and wellbeing at the heart of what we do, we become a healthier force better able not only to keep Essex safe but to protect vulnerable people here.”

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Our police officers, staff and volunteers do a tough job and deal with very difficult and challenging events every single day.

“It’s important that we recognise those challenges and create an environment where people feel able to speak freely about them and get all the support they need.

“Raising awareness of mental health within the workplace will also equip police officers and staff with the skills and understanding they need in dealing with those members of the public they may encounter in distress.”

Essex Police joins the wide movement of emergency service employers and associations that have pledged to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination, including Derbyshire Fire & Rescue, Kent Fire and Rescue Kent Police, Leicestershire Police, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “Not only are many of our blue light personnel struggling with their mental health, but they’re less likely to seek support or have time off sick than the general workforce. Good mental health should be a priority in any workplace but it is especially important that people exposed to traumatic of life-threatening situations – such as those working within the police, ambulance, fire and search and rescue services – receive appropriate support. By signing the Blue Light Time to Change pledge Essex Police is helping to fight stigma and promote positive mental health in emergency services.”

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