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Chief Exec's Blog

If you are suffering with mental health issues then we are here, as a Federation, to help you get the appropriate help you need.

To that end, I'm proud to say that we have paid for 16 of our colleagues to become mental health first aiders. They are ready to help having recently graduated from their training course.

So, in a force of our size to have that sort of mental health first aid cover is fantastic. We also link in with the Police Treatment Centres, making people aware that it's not just physical help on offer, its psychological as well.

For us, it's about ensuring help is joined up and that all agencies, the force as an employer and GPs, are aware of the issues.

What we're trying to achieve is an understanding between the employee, our member, and the employer, the organisation, and the GP.

So, if you're struggling with mental health and you attend your surgery or go and see another agency, the GP will then inform the employer. It's something all parties must buy into because of medical confidence.

What we don't want is an officer carrying a firearm who is struggling in life with their mental health wellbeing, and nobody's in the loop.

We want to avoid the situation where the GP is not allowed to talk to the employer, rather we want all of us, everyone involved, to come together and sign off on an agreement, a contract which says, 'we'll help you'.

Having trained mental health first aiders in place now is a big step forward, it's vitally important and we are one of the few forces to employ a psychologist in house. We buy into all the processes.

I know we have to work on the trust because sometimes when people are low and suffering from mental health challenges, they don't trust anyone. We need to gain that trust and say, 'do you know what? If you've gone to the GP, it's okay for your GP to write to your employer'. That's okay. How can we help you?'

That's the most important thing. Not to say this is the end of the line. No, this is the beginning of the journey and we're going to get you better.