Essex Police marks World Mental Health Day
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Today (Thursday 10 October) we are marking World Mental Health Day by talking about the work we are doing to support our officers, staff and volunteers.
We recognise that working for an emergency service can be a rewarding yet demanding on our worker’s well-being.
Within the force we have a ‘Feel Well Live Well’ programme in place, which provides employees with the tools to help them deal with and reflect on their well-being and the mental health of their colleagues.
A separate programme called Headway gives our employees an introduction to mindfulness and meditation with the aim of reducing stress, improving resilience, concentration and well-being and reducing anxiety.
Essex Police also has a Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) team who help officers, staff workers and volunteers get the support they need if they feel affected by an incident.
The process involves an employee meeting with a qualified practitioner, where they talk in confidence and can receive signposting to further support.
This could be from additional welfare and counselling services internally or support from external organisations such as MIND, the Samaritans and the NHS.
Chief Constable Ben-Julian (BJ) Harrington said: “While policing is an exciting and rewarding job, it can also be difficult and stressful.
“Our officers are helping people during the worst days of their lives and are left exposed to both physical and emotional trauma.
“Ensuring the welfare of my officers and staff is essential and we have many processes and programmes in place here at Essex Police to help ensure they receive the appropriate support, care and guidance.
“Never has mental health been more within the national spotlight and I’m delighted to say that my force is in the best possible place to deal with any scenario put in front of us.
“Every day we are working closer than ever with our partners to make sure we can provide well-being and mental health support to members of the public when is crisis and front line workers.
“We can’t expect officers to look after the public if they’re not looked after themselves and that’s why I, alongside the Commissioner, Roger Hirst, re-signed the Blue Light Pledge last year and continue to take it just as seriously today.”
Essex Police continues to support MIND’s Blue Light Pledge to show its commitment to supporting employees as they continue to respond and deal with complex and often difficult incidents.
Chief Constable BJ Harrington resigned the pledge on World Mental Health Day in 2018 alongside Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst.
Mr Hirst said: “With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem it has never been more important to talk about mental health.
As part of #WorldMentalHealthDay we want to promote the value of volunteering as a Special Constable. Helping others can increase self-esteem, which leads to better wellbeing, and being part of a social network can provide a sense of belonging, which can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Our volunteer police officers come from many different backgrounds but all join for similar reasons, to help and support members of the community and to be part of our Essex Police family.
Volunteering is a great way to do something for others and can benefit ones mental health by increasing self-esteem, motivation and wellbeing. To find out more about becoming a Special Constable, visit https://www.essex.police.uk/Specials. #MyOtherLife
Case study – DC Harriet Ware
As part of World Mental Health Day we spoke to DC Harriet Ware about her role and the importance of well-being.
DC Harriet Ware never envisioned that she would need additional wellbeing and support when she witnessed her beloved dog Alfie being run over while chasing a deer in Hylands Park.
Harriet has been an officer for over 13 years and a detective with Essex Police for five years and has attended a variety incidents including sudden deaths, violent crime, burglary, domestic disturbances and concern for welfare calls where people are in crisis.
However, it was the death of the family dog that saw her referred to our Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) team.
Harriet was given compassionate leave and had a house visit by an officer trained in TRiM, who helped support her with her grief and her return back to work – helping to keep you safe.
“It felt silly at the time because I’m a tough person but trauma is trauma and it can hit you in many ways,” Harriet said.
“For any animal lover, you consider your pet as an extension to your family and I was lucky enough to have a kind, considerate and understanding employer who gave me the support I needed.
“My supervisor and my team really took my needs seriously and helped me during a difficult time, so I’m forever grateful.”
Harriet, of Chelmsford CID, was struck with a second emergency in a short period after her father suffered a cardiac arrest while watching a match at Crystal Palace football club in October 2018.
He was saved by the quick actions of a St John’s Ambulance worker but it was a difficult time for Harriet who had given birth to her son just five days before.
Once again, Essex Police gave Harriet and her wife,who is also a serving Essex Police officer , the emotional support they needed through TRiM.
The couple are also getting additional well-being support after their eldest son, who is four and was recently diagnosed as autistic.
Harriet added: “It’s been a very difficult period but having an understanding employer really makes a difference and I’ve been given the best support I need to continue doing the job I love.
“I thrive on being a Detective. I see it as getting lots of interesting pieces of a puzzle and it’s my job to put the entire thing together.
“One enquiry can lead to another and before you know it, you have the evidence, you have the suspect and then you have justice, giving my victims the best outcome, care and closure.”
We are actively recruiting detectives to Essex Police through a fast-track programme.
To find out more, please visit our detective recruitment page.
Case study – SC Abigail Harman
As part of World Mental Health Day we are sharing Special Constable Abigail Harman’s charity challenge
When Special Constable Abigail Harman signed up to take part in the Three Peaks Challenge, she knew it was going to be one of her toughest experiences.
The challenge was very physically demanding but what got Abi, 24, through it was the support and friendship of the 20 other Special Constables and Essex Police staff who encouraged and pushed her upwards.
It is this encouragement, commitment, friendship and determination that encourages our Special Constables every day when they make courageous and brave choices and why our Special Constabulary is the fastest growing in the UK and the second largest.
“The only reason I was able to climb all three peaks was because of the support and encouragement I had from my team. If I hadn’t become a Special Constable, I would never have taken on and completed this challenge,” Abi said.
“Being a Special Constable means becoming part of the police family.
“You’re surrounded by like-minded people with good morals who are always there to support you - whether that’s on duty or personally.
“I think using your free time to police helps with your well-being and mental health as you get yourself out, you help make a real difference in the community and you make life-long friends.”
Abi, from Chelmsford is a keen fitness enthusiast and her role as at Essex Police means she is receiving discounted fitness sessions. There are also many other benefits through our Essex Police Sports Association.
She attested to become a Special Constable in February 2018 and is based with both Chelmsford Local and Community Policing Teams.
We are recruiting Special Constables to our policing family, please visit our recruitment section.