Merseyside Police's Commissioner Jane Kennedy and Chief Constable Andy Cooke have today pledged to challenge mental health stigma and promote wellbeing in the workplace.
During an event at Merseyside Police headquarters (Wednesday, 7 September) , attended by mental health charities and Merseyside Police staff, both signed the Blue Light Time To Change Pledge, to join the Blue Light Mental Health and Wellbeing Network.
In May this year, Merseyside Police first signed up to the network, which was the first of its kind in the UK, to develop access to mental health information and support for all employees of emergency services in Merseyside.
The Pledge, introduced and delivered by the mental health charity Mind, is a growing movement of over 400 employers across different sectors in England who are all working to tackle mental health stigma and promote positive wellbeing within their workplaces.
The event was timed to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday, 10 September, the theme of which is ‘Connect, communicate, care’ and aims to foster connections with those who have lost a loved one to suicide or have been suicidal themselves, to further suicide prevention efforts.
Representatives from the charities State of Mind Sport and Wirral Mind spoke at the event, which was also attended by staff members who will be trained as Peer Supporters within the organisation. Former Rugby League players Paul Highton and Jimmy Gittins are trustees for State of Mind Sport and shared their stories to the audience.
Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: "Merseyside Police is delighted to be able to make this pledge, which is a great opportunity to share learning and develop wellbeing across the force to support our officers and staff.
"We do a fantastic job protecting the public day in and day out, but it is a difficult job, physically, emotionally and mentally. It is essential that we able to talk about and recognise the signs of mental health symptoms, both in ourselves and in others.
"Merseyside Police is fully committed to helping our officers and staff wherever we can by supporting them in this important area.”
Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “I was pleased to join the Chief to make this important pledge today.
“’Are you ok?’ is a small question to ask one colleague to another in the emergency services and it may make all the difference to someone on the edge of mental ill health.
“Our officers, PCSOs and staff do a tough job, often in tougher circumstances and we need to give them the support and care they need, when they need it.
“We all have a part to play in ending the stigma around mental ill health. From the top down, we have a duty to care and to support. By signing this pledge today we will demonstrate our commitment to breaking down barriers and ending discrimination.”
Rachel Gilbert from Wirral Mind said: “Wirral Mind are delighted to be working with Merseyside Police. This is a pioneering initiative and really productive development in terms of tackling the stigma around mental health and giving our Blue Light personnel the support that they both very much need and deserve.”
Further information about the charity State of Mind Sport can be found at http://www.stateofmindsport.org/
Further information about the charity Mind can be found at http://www.mind.org.uk
World Suicide Prevention Day has been held on 10 September annually since 2003, and this year you can join the conversation at https://www.iasp.info/wspd/ or on social media at https://www.facebook.com/events/1054474904622617/ and https://twitter.com/IASPinfo