Police officers encouraged to take time off if they’re struggling with their mental health

POLICE officers at Hampshire Constabulary are being encouraged to take time off sick if they are struggling excessively with stress, anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Zoë Wakefield, Hampshire Police Federation Chair, has urged police officers to protect their mental health by stopping before they are forced to stop.

She said: “Mental health is definitely a buzzword and it has to be more than that, and more than a poster on a wall. At our open meeting there was an officer saying about how much they were struggling and how they were on the verge of breaking, and I think officers push themselves and keep on going, and keep on going, until they do actually break.

“When people realise they’re struggling, they need to actually stop. Go sick. Because they all worry about, ‘What happens if I’m not here? Who’s going to do the work?’ It’ll manage. Everything will be fine. None of us are that amazing that we’re irreplaceable. There are other people that can step in and it’s much better that you take that time off and get that help before you do actually break.

“Because the problem is, once people are completely broken, it’s much harder for them to recover. So I think we need to get the message out there that, actually, please, if you realise that you’re starting to struggle, take the time off and get that help there and then.”

Hampshire Constabulary has recently introduced psychological screening for all staff, to enable it to better pick up the officers that are struggling and put interventions in place.

The Police Federation of England and Wales said last month that forces must be more proactive by stepping in to help to officers who are facing difficulties with their mental health and wellbeing.

Wellbeing Secretary Belinda Goodwin said: “Most members know where to go once they are broken, but that’s the issue. Looking at the welfare landscape at the moment, there are a lot of resources officers can tap into and go to when they need help – but we must get better when it comes to prevention.

“It’s doing something before an officer breaks, and before they reach a critical stage.”

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