Do you suffer with depression and anxiety?
Do you have any mental illness that affects you on a day to day basis?
No you answer all too quickly?!
Who me?! You think, no of course not, how could I, I'm a cop, we deal with the nutters don't we? how could I possibly be one?!
BUT - Do you get angry unexpectedly? Or do things make you cry out of the blue? Perhaps you find yourself sat staring off in to space for no particular reason? Are you feeling frazzled, over loaded? Does your head ache more than most? Do you suffer from fatigue regardless of how much sleep you have had? Is your workload getting you down? Is it a psychological burden to you, something you're fretting about day in and day out. Do you wake up and immediately consider the outstanding jobs you have? Is your brain slower than normal, foggy, forgetful? Do you feel numb to things and spaced out? Do you question your ability and have low self esteem? Maybe you have unexplained aches and pains? And the future is bleak right?
If you answered yes to any of these things, then potentially you could have mental illnesses like depression and or anxiety and you need help because trust me it doesn't solve itself.
Have you declared any of these things to your supervision? I suspect the answer is no, but if you have what was the response?
Probably oh dear never mind, do the best you can!
Or sshhh... best to keep those thoughts to yourself, you don't want to sully your career with suggestions of instability or mental health issues do you?!
Or perhaps... you may have to move roles if you start talking like that!?
Or, that will affect your promotion chances you know...!
I know these things because officers responding to this blog have told me these exact stories.
I too have experienced all these things to some degree because I am a serving police officer too and I have depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia and I am currently off sick.
I have been off sick since Christmas 2016 and my force have been unable to offer me any real support. What I need is a psychiatric intervention, counselling, mental health support which is fairly obvious really! What I get though is referrals to occupational health, summonses to case conferences and silence.
There is a stigma currently attached to mental illness in the police service and it is high time this was changed. I understand why you keep quiet, why you hide your illness under your hats, why you hide behind your uniforms and bury your heads in your massive piles of paperwork... HOWEVER
There comes a time when people, cops, we have to stand up and be counted. Will you help with that?
Change will not start itself, it needs pushing along.
I can shout and shout but me in isolation will not change things,
I need you to be brave, grasp the nettle and shout very loudly about your mental health.
HONESTY IS THE KEY TO FIGHTING THE STIGMA
Not only will that help the cause but yourself too.
You need to be able to look in the mirror and see yourself, not the fake, puffed out chest, I can cope with anything cop version, but you the gentle caring person you were before stress and anxiety ravaged you.
Peer support groups in every force need to become the norm. Access to psychiatric help within days needs to be the norm. Let's break down the STIGMA....NOW...
Acceptance of mental illness without the stigma is vital to a modern police service surviving.
Without change the future is bleak,staffing numbers are falling and work loads are increasing so more and more officers will need support and guidance not the current wall of silence and ignorance.
Will you stand tall and join my Black Dog Cops Pack?
We can make a difference for ourselves and others.
#MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS