#AskTwice About Colleagues’ Mental Health

Officers are being urged to look out for their colleagues’ mental health, in the national Federation #AskTwice campaign.

The PFEW initiative aims to foster a supportive and inclusive work environment, where people feel valued, heard, and empowered to seek help when needed. It also consists of a library of assets at polfed.org/campaigns/asktwice/. These offer guidance for those in moments of crisis, or people looking to support colleagues through challenging times.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said: “When you’re not in a good place mentally, you don’t necessarily see it. You might be aware that you’re struggling, but you can’t necessarily think clearly enough to consider ‘What do I need to do about this? How do I get out of this?’. So it’s really important that those around you pick up on the signs.

“We’ve had officers that have pretty much had a breakdown and their Sergeants have said: ‘I did notice that you were getting quieter and quieter’, but they did nothing about it.

“So it’s really important that colleagues and supervisors are aware of the signs and then ask twice. Don’t just say, ‘You alright?’, and they say, ‘Yeah, I’m fine’. Ask: ‘No, are you really okay?’. Take them away somewhere where it’s quiet, where they might feel more able to open up, because they’re not going to do it in a room full of police officers.”

If officers are struggling with their mental health, Zoë said the first port of call is the Occupational Health team. And she emphasised that the Federation can also help: “We work with lots of charities like Police Care UK, which can provide really good support. Flint House also has a really good mental health programme. Also we can put officers forward to our welfare breaks at Sandy Balls. The force also has the Wellbeing Toolkit, which has loads of information. There’s a lot of support out there, so come talk to us.”

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