The secretary of Staffordshire Police Federation has welcomed moves to adopt a uniform set of standards for supporting officers’ mental health and hopes they will break down barriers.

Glyn Pattinson says policing the pandemic will have taken its toll on officers and encouraged them to access help if they need it.

His comments follow The Royal Foundation’s Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium, which saw 200 leaders from across police, fire, ambulance, and search and rescue from the four nations come together for the first time to address the mental health of their workforces.

National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) chair Martin Hewitt signed the Mental Health at Work Commitment endorsing six standards, including declaring mental health is, and will remain, a strategic priority, and encouraging forces to promote an open culture around mental health.

A Blue Light Together package of mental health support for the emergency services, developed by The Royal Foundation and other partner organisations, was also launched.

Through a new Blue Light Together website from mental health charity Mind, information and advice to help emergency responders with their mental health has been shared, including real life stories and tips from colleagues working in the field and guides for employers so they can support their teams with their wellbeing.

Working in partnership with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), The Royal Foundation is also funding the creation of a directory of therapists who have experience of specialising in addressing the complex mental health needs of emergency responders.

The event included a live panel session involving senior emergency services leaders who spoke about their personal experiences with mental health struggles, alongside speeches by Dame Cressida Dick, the Met Commissioner, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Mind CEO Paul Farmer and The Duke of Cambridge.

Glyn said: “Policing is a unique job with unique pressures, demands and experiences which can impact on our mental health and wellbeing. We know that the pandemic has amplified those stress and strains for some of our members, so the need for mental health support for our members is very real.

“The Mental Health at Work Commitment is a significant step forward in that.

“I hope it brings a focus on prevention and, for those who do need support, that it breaks down barriers and stigmas, and enables them to access it when they need it.”

John Apter, the national chair of the Federation, who attended the event, said: “Policing and other emergency services have talked a lot about how they are supporting the mental health of their workforce for a number of years, and there have been some improvements.

“The pledge that has been agreed to by the NPCC is a massive step forward, but chiefs have got to make sure it delivers something tangible as too many colleagues are being failed on daily basis; I have spoken to officers who are truly broken, and on many occasions this was completely avoidable.

“Rather than continuing to stick plasters over gaping wounds, it is key the service focuses on prevention.

“In policing, we cannot get away from attending traumatic incidents, but we can do more to ensure there is better support for them and their families, and better training in place for supervisors and managers so they can recognise and address the issues.”

Find information, ideas and support to help look after your mental health at Blue Light Together.