Officers reluctant to seek help for mental health

24 March 2017

mental health

More needs to be done to tackle the stigma associated with mental health and wellbeing in the police service.

The Federation’s recent officer welfare, demand and capacity survey looked at the effects of working under increased pressure, the ability to cope and opinion on organisational support.

  • 65% of respondents said they had still gone to work despite feeling they shouldn’t have due to their mental wellbeing
  • 51% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, ‘The police service encourages its staff to openly talk about mental health and wellbeing’
  • 57% of respondents indicated that they would NOT feel confident disclosing any difficulties with mental health and wellbeing to their line managers

Of those who reported having sought professional help;

  • 42% said that they were poorly or very poorly supported by the police service
  • 39% felt that they had been given the right support

Officers who chose not to disclose mental health and wellbeing issues with their line manager said this was because they ‘did not want to be treated differently’ and ‘thought it would negatively affect opportunities for promotion and/or specialisation’.

A startling 73% of line managers said they had not been given any training on how to support a colleague who was having difficulties with mental health or wellbeing.

It takes a lot to admit when you need help but if this is not handled correctly by senior managers, it can be very damaging to officers who already feel vulnerable.  They should feel empowered to speak out about the difficulties they are experiencing and have confidence in the service to afford them the support they need and deserve.

Striving for change is NPCC lead for wellbeing, DCC Andy Rhodes, who said: “Four years ago we set up the first national working group to develop an evidence-based approach for the service. Four years on and we have established wellbeing into the HMIC PEEL inspection.  We have recently agreed a tailored self-assessment framework for forces to follow, and this week we are starting to launch our new national website funded by Public Health England.

“Whilst this represents progress, we still have a long way to go and we are working closely with command teams, police charities and staff associations to push on into areas such as PTSD.

“On 22 March 2017, the Police Dependants’ Trust held the first national conference on Trauma with leading researchers, practitioners and experts from Combat Stress.’’

Read the full welfare survey results and force area breakdowns Read the full welfare survey results and force area breakdowns.