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Spotlight On: Mental health of police officers and staff

Policing Insight has over a thousand in depth articles on a wide range of policing issues. SPOTLIGHT ON is a new series which groups articles under one subject allowing you quick and easy reference when you need it. Articles on the mental well-being of officers and staff are among some of our best-read features so we begin the series with a roundup of articles examining mental ill health among police employees and the service’s response.

Please note: The articles linked to below may be subscriber access only. If you don’t have a subscription you may qualify for FREE subscriber access if your organisation has purchased an organisation wide subscription – just register an account with your work email address to find out and your account will be automatically upgraded to subscriber access. To find out more about purchasing a subscription for your organisation, please email [email protected].

Mental health issues for officers and staff have become an increasing concern in recent years. A Police Federation survey of 17,000 police officers in 2016 showed 39% of police officers had sought 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 per cent said they still went to work even though they felt they shouldn’t have because of the state of their mental well-being. 

A further survey by Mind, the mental health charity, revealed that 5 per cent 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.

Janine Jury: The emotional impact of policing traumatic incidents

In her article, The emotional impact of policing traumatic incidents, Janine Jury, an experienced Counselling and Wellbeing Manager working within the emergency services, examines how police officers can respond differently to stress caused by their job.

Sarah-Jane Lennie: The psychological consequences of emotional labour: A personal story

On an individual level, Sarah-Jane Lennie, a former Detective Inspector, gives an intensely personal and powerful account of how she couldn’t carry on in The psychological consequences of emotional labour: A personal story and now on a career break and studying for a PhD at Manchester Met, she invites serving officers to take part in her research into the psychological consequences of the emotional work of policing.

Gill Scott-Moore: “There has to be a better way”: Mental health issues in the police service

 “There has to be a better way”: Mental health issues in the police service by Gill Scott-Moore of the Police Dependents’ Trust explores what’s changed in the way police deal with mental health issues, the research the Trust itself has commissioned, and the work that still needs to be done. The article also covers inconsistencies between forces such as why is it that PTSD in some forces will result in an injury retirement, in others a resignation and in the worst cases prosecution?

Mary Elliott-Davies: Spreading the word: The Police Federation’s analysis of how stress and demand is affecting well being.

In Spreading the word: The Police Federation’s analysis of how stress and demand is affecting wellbeing, Mary Elliott-Davies, a Research Practitioner at the Police Federation of England, explains how stress and demand are linked to poor wellbeing, and what the Federation is doing in its campaign for change.

Lt Col (Retd) Richard Dorney: Taking the lead: Maintaining morale and mental resilience

Lt Col (Retd) Richard Dorney served in the British Army for more than 38 years. His article Taking the lead: Maintaining morale and mental resilience was one of Policing Insight’s most well read articles of 2017. Lt Col (Retd) Richard Dorney established the Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) system in the Army and commanded the training team for three years. Now retired, he is now Director of Strongmind Resilience Training Ltd. In his article, he explains the importance of strong leadership in maintaining morale and mental resiliency.

Patrick Cairns: Lifeline: Police Treatment Centres deliver vital treatment for officers and staff

Lifeline: Police Treatment Centres deliver vital treatment for officers and staff  explores the work of the Police Treatment Centres. Authored by CEO Patrick Cairns, the article explains the benefits of PTC’s Psychological Wellbeing Programme and what more chief officers and PCCs can do to support the work of the Centre.

CC Rhodes-Lancashire Constabulary

CC Andy Rhodes: Ensuring police well-being is Oscar Kilo

Finally, with last year’s Ensuring police well-being is Oscar Kilo,  Policing Insight highlighted the excellent Oscar Kilo initiative to set up a national well-being online resource for police and other blue light services. Lancashire Chief Constable Andy Rhodes has led the initiative and in an interview with us he discussed the importance of its mission to share learning and best practice from across emergency and blue light services so organisations can invest the very best into the well-being of their staff.

More articles relating to mental health issues for officers and staff

Further to our own articles, Policing Insight has a valuable database of external resources via our Media Monitor service. We summarise a few example links below but for a full list, please visit Policing Insight’s Media Monitor page and refine the search results using subject filters such as ‘Mental health’, ‘Officer and staff welfare’ or ‘Police welfare’

PTSD – A serious problem or an excuse not to work?
Dr Dave Sloggett looks at the growing problem of PTSD in the emergency services.
Police Oracle – subscription at source

Police officers talk about their battle against PTSD
More than half of all police forces in England and Wales have told the BBC the number of officers having to take long-term sick leave because of mental health problems has been increasing over the last six years. 5 live Investigates has spoken to officers struggling to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brought on by some of the disturbing things they’ve experienced during the course of their job.

‘I’d just burst into tears’: the emergency workers dealing with PTSD
Police officers who suffered post-traumatic stress want more to be done to help colleagues who may develop the condition.
The Guardian

This is real life – not some television drama
Karen Stephens, PFEW Detectives’ Lead, writes about the ever increasing pressure faced
by investigators.
Police Oracle – subscription at source

Dorset Police Chaplain discusses his role in supporting the force’s staff
Members of the police force need support just like the rest of society, according to an experienced member of the Dorset Police’s chaplaincy team.
Daily Echo

Police Chiefs’ Blog: CC Sara Thornton – We need to talk about wellbeing in policing
If we want our officers and staff to function at their best, they must get the support they need from police leaders on mental health, welfare, and wellbeing.
National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC)

Welfare or well unfair: are sickness absence policies in policing counterproductive to the welfare agenda?
Last year, I asked if a mental health dam in policing is starting to crack, highlighting the findings of two pieces of research, respectively by the Police Dependents’ Trust and Police Federation for England and Wales, which laid bare the extent of mental health issues experienced by those working in policing.
Police Foundation

Every contact leaves a trace
Earlier this week the Daily Mail ran an article which claimed that more than 100 police officers take a whole year off work due to mental health issues. It stated that 1500 officers were absent every day for the same reasons.
Nathan Constable Blog

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