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World Mental Health Day 2021

A blog by PSA President Paul Griffiths on World Mental Health Day 2021:

When considering what I wanted to convey in this blog for mental health day, I was quite overwhelmed with the power and significance of this topic within policing today.
As I write, we are in the midst of a national crisis when it comes to public trust and confidence in our police service, following the horrific murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer.
This follows a global pandemic during which police officers and staff have been tasked with facing the threat of serious harm from a deadly virus, as they continue their work to protect communities.
The resulting impact on the mental health of our workforce should not be underestimated.
The spotlight on mental health has never been brighter, which is something we whole heartedly welcome. We understand mental health more than we ever have, and we are creating a culture where it is accepted and encouraged to talk about mental wellbeing.
Where we need to focus is on our individual commitment to protecting our own mental health.
Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked, in fact, nearly 1 in 3 people with a long-term physical health condition also has a mental health problem, yet we still struggle to care for our mind in the same way we care for our body.  I recognise that this isn’t always easy.
In a job that is rightly under the microscope of the public, the media and politicians, those working in policing live a complex life of feeling judged, revered and condemned at different times.  It takes a strong and resolute mind to navigate this and I would suggest that it is impossible to be unaffected psychologically.
We now need to give our workforce the tools to help them manage this, so that we encourage and support mental wellbeing with the same importance as physical wellbeing.
Ernest Hemingway wrote "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places."
The world has certainly tried to ‘break’ many of us in the last 18 months, and police officers and staff would not be judged for feeling somewhat ‘broken’ as a result of what they’re feeling right now.
With the right tools and the right support, we can help colleagues to gain strength after feeling ‘broken’ and part of that requires a resolute commitment to open, free conversations.
Many of our colleagues simply don’t know what to say at the moment, in the wake of the most awful actions from another officer, which have exposed issues deeply rooted in our Service, but the conversation must start.
We must change and we must learn from the issues that are facing us today, never losing sight of the wellbeing of those dedicated to the true values of policing.