Mental Health Sickness in Policing Rockets

THE number of Hampshire Police officers being signed off work for mental ill health has rocketed over the past year, and early support is vital, said the Federation.

A FOI request revealed that 295 Hampshire officers took time off in 2021-2022 due to stress, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Across all forces in England and Wales, a staggering 13,263 officers were signed off work.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said: “I think a lot more needs to be done. Let’s get the support in, let’s get officers the help that they need before they go off sick.

“It seems to be the case that before we know it officers are so poorly that they’re looking at ill-health retirement. The force should be stepping in much earlier on, when the person’s first showing those signs and symptoms, to get them the help and support they need to hopefully get better.”

She continued: “I think the numbers have rocketed because we’re still in this period of cuts, effectively, and the new officers aren’t all in place yet. So we’re still struggling on low numbers.

“Officers are just so overworked, and the fewer officers there are, the greater the ratio of traumatic incidents that they go to. Some officers feel they’ve had years and years of this now and they’re just getting to breaking point.”

Officers who are struggling with their mental health should not hesitate to talk to someone and seek help, Zoë added. She said: “The moment you start feeling unwell, get some help. Go to your line manager. Go to your GP. Come to the Federation. There is help available. Don’t try and struggle on, come and ask for that help.”

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