Mental health issues for serving officers is an increasing concern for the Federation and the service overall.
Resilience in the service is at an all-time low and officers are being put under inordinate amounts of pressure which is taking its toll on their health and wellbeing.
The unprecedented cuts to the police service have meant that officers are under more strain now than ever before as officers are being asked to do more and more with fewer resources and while they have risen admirably to the challenge it is inevitable that the increased pressures they’re facing will have an impact on them mentally.
Nine-point Stress Plan
A nine-point stress plan template was launched in September 2017 by the Federation to help forces better prioritise on officer wellbeing. This was presented to health and safety representatives from the 43 forces in England and Wales, as well as representatives from the Scottish Police Federation, the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, and three of our non-home forces – the British Transport Police, Civic Nuclear Constabulary and Ministry of Defence Police.
The nine-point stress plan template can be viewed here.
More needs to be done to tackle mental health issues across the board and the Federation is raising these issues regularly. PFEW has pledged to tackle mental illness in the service by signing up to the mental health charity Mind’s Blue Light Time to Change Pledge. The Pledge is part of the Mind’s wider Blue Light programme launched in March 2015 to support the emergency services including the police.
A Police Federation survey of 17,000 officers in 2016 showed an alarming set of statistics around mental health of officers, with 39% seeking help with mental health issues.
More than a quarter of officers who have taken sick leave attributed it to stress, depression or anxiety, while 65% said they still went to work even though they felt they shouldn’t have because of the state of their mental wellbeing.
A recent survey by Mind, the mental health charity, revealed that 5% of the staff and volunteers they interviewed from police, fire, ambulance and search and rescue services had made an actual attempt to take their own lives.
The 2016 Pay and Morale survey also revealed that 69.4% of officers who were actively looking to leave the force wanted to do so because of the “impact of the job on health and wellbeing”.
Letting the team down?
Some officers felt they would be letting their already stretched teams down by taking time off, while others were concerned about the stigma of disclosing mental health problems.
Equally concerning, 73% of managers said they had not been given any training on how to support a colleague who was having difficulties with mental health and wellbeing.
The Federation is working closely with the National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing on measures to combat officer stress.
Officer wellbeing is a crucial part of the Federation’s work. PFEW supports the Welfare Support Programme in conjunction with the Police Firearms Officers Association. Learn more about what services police charities provide on the Police Charities UK website.