Support service for police launched to coincide with mental health awareness week

After signing Mind's Blue Light Pledge last year, Sussex Police has this week launched its Mental Health Advocacy scheme to coincide with mental health awareness week.

Chief Constable Giles York said he takes the health and welfare of his staff really seriously.

One in four people will suffer some form of mental health issue in their lifetime – and those who work for the police are no different.

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He added Sussex Police is committed to providing support for the mental health needs of their staff and officers.

As such, Sussex and Surrey police have trained 110 volunteer advocates who will act as a point of contact for anyone who is struggling with mental health themselves, or who are concerned about someone they know.

PC Danni Dawes, a road poling officer and an advocate said: “As a force we are very good at looking after people with mental health issues and this scheme will help us look after each other.

“I know many people who have got stress, depression, anxiety or possible early signs of PTSD who will not say they’ve got anything wrong with them.

“I want to help those people, get treatment, keep going, and don’t give up. That just because you’re ill doesn’t make you less of a person and it doesn’t mean you can’t do the job.”

Jen Marshall, a project officer, added: “The introduction of the advocate scheme is a huge step forward; saying to people that it is ok to talk about how you feel and introducing people who want to give their time to help.

“To me mental health is very similar to physical health, the difference is many of us don’t feel quite as comfortable discussing it with others.”

The force’s goal, working with mental health support and charities, aims to reduce stigma and increase understanding of these issues.

Chief Constable Giles York added: “In many ways the stigma associated with mental health can actually be more disabling than the condition itself.

“I want our people to get the support and guidance they need. I am incredibly proud of our work, every day I ask our officers and staff to take on exceptional challenges to keep the public of Sussex safe. I believe our new advocates have volunteered to help others, in addition to their own day jobs, guiding and helping those who need them.

“We need to have the courage to start conversations about mental health, to give people the confidence that they will be heard and understood.”

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