Staffordshire Police

Decision-makers must remember police officers are human beings when it comes to mental health, Staffordshire Police Federation has urged.

Worrying new figures show 10,000 police officers took time off for stress, depression, anxiety or with PTSD symptoms in the UK last year, worrying new figures show.

In Staffordshire, 124 officers were away from the frontline dealing with mental health issues.

The national statistic works out at around one in 12 officers.

The number of officers signed off on sick leave for psychological illnesses has nearly doubled since 2012

The numbers were established by a Freedom of Information Act request from all police forces. 

“First and foremost, we must remember that police officers are human beings,” said Staffordshire Police Federation Chairman Phil Jones.

“These figures are extremely worrying when officers are ill with mental health, when they break, then they are not able to carry on serving the public.”

Phil has concerns too that the numbers may just be the tip of the iceberg.

“What you see on the surface is not necessarily what’s going on underneath,” he said. 

“There are significant factors involved; 76% of officers will go out single crewed meaning they are often alone with nobody to talk to or offload too.

“I would say the majority of officers in their careers will have mental health experiences, and many won’t even know it.”

The issue is compounded by the stressful nature of the job and the fact that the modern officer is exposed to such a high level of trauma.

“In an officers’ career they are likely to attend between 400-600 traumatic events compared to the public who might see or experience just three or four,” Phil said.

“Officers in Staffordshire can access services through the force’s occupational health teams, and they can self-refer.  

“As a Federation, we work with officers through wellbeing support groups, and we have the Flint House Police Rehabilitation Centre that we can refer officers who need help to.”

The key advice for officers is to make sure they come forward and speak about how they are feeling.

“Please don’t suffer in silence,” Phil added. “Talk to your Fed Rep and Line Manager.

“We need police chiefs and the Home Office to do more to help officers when they are suffering – we need to remember they are human beings too.”