Northumbria Police and the PCC have joined emergency-service providers from across the North East to improve mental-health support for police officers, staff and volunteers.
The force has joined the UK’s first emergency-service mental-health network after Tyneside and Northumberland Mind secured £100,000 in funding to create a North East mental-health network for the emergency services.
Those involved in the Blue Light North East Network include Northumbria Police, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, the North East Ambulance Service, Durham Constabulary, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, the RNLI and Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team.
The new project will include improving workplace wellbeing, building resilience, providing information and challenging stigma, with more training for line managers on identifying and supporting those suffering from poor mental health.
A recent survey by Mind revealed that nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) of emergency-services’ staff and volunteers surveyed have experienced stress, low mood and poor mental health at some point while working for the emergency services.
However, the stigma surrounding mental-health problems can prevent people talking about their experiences because they fear it will affect their jobs and their relationships with their colleagues.
Northumbria Police already has a number of measures in place to support the wellbeing of their staff and volunteers, including a well-established occupational health service and a Disability Support Association (DSA) to provide support and guidance to anyone experiencing difficulties relating to disability, mental-health and caring responsibilities.
In February, Chief Constable Steve Ashman and PCC Vera Baird signed the Blue Light Time to Change Pledge on behalf of Northumbria Police demonstrating their commitment to challenge mental-health stigma and promote positive wellbeing within the service.