MENTAL health in policing must be treated as seriously as physical safety.
The Police Federation has launched a campaign that asks officers to be on the lookout for signs that colleagues might be struggling with their mental health.
Hampshire Police Federation Chairman Alex Charge said: “There are fewer police officers now and they’re attending more high-harm incidents.
“That’s a smaller group of people being exposed to trauma more often. It’s so important that we’re able to talk with colleagues and ask that question: ‘Are you okay?’. And not just accept, ‘Yeah, I’m fine’, but dig a little bit deeper, and ask that second question: ‘Are you sure?’. It’s about keeping an eye on people and taking five or 10 minutes out to make sure you’re happy that they are okay.
“It’s social engagement with colleagues, it’s going for a coffee with your crewmate, it’s about having a little bit of time just to check that people genuinely are okay. And then understand about signposting and everything you can do to support your colleagues.”
Hampshire Police Federation has encouraged the PCC to spend £1.2m on wellbeing, including suicide awareness training for supervisors.
Alex continues: “Our message is: If you’re struggling, make the call. Call us, call the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), speak to your supervisor, speak to a colleague. They can start you on a journey that will take you out of how you’re feeling. There’s lots of help here, there’s lots of support.
Psychological screening is available for every officer, which can be accessed via supervisors. There are also support groups available for the partners of officers who are struggling with PTSD.
Alex said: “The feedback we’re getting is very positive. We’ve got two welfare cottages in Sandy Balls, and there’s lots more we can do to support people. All we need is them to say: ‘I’m going through hard times, can you help me?’. Or their colleagues to say: ‘My colleague, I’m not sure. Maybe they need your support?’. There’s a large amount of provision, we just need people to access it.”