Northumbria Police have underlined their commitment to ending mental health stigma by signing the Blue Light Time to Change Pledge.
Mental health problems affect one in four people every year, but the stigma surrounding it means people are afraid to talk about their experiences, because they fear it will affect their jobs or relationships.
People working within the emergency services are even more likely to experience problems due to the very nature of their job and the difficult incidents they are faced with every day.
To support staff, Northumbria Police already have a number of networks in place.
But, to underline the force’s commitment to mental health, chief constable Steve Ashman signed up to the Blue Light Programme yesterday, which will offer further support to the workforce.
The programme, which is led by the charity Mind, promotes a better understanding of mental health problems and looks to end any form of discrimination in the workplace.
It also coincided with Time to Talk Day yesterday, which is aimed at encouraging discussions across the country to help end the stigma surrounding mental health.
Chief constable Ashman said: “As a member of the emergency services, we are faced with incredibly difficult situations every day, and it is vitally important that we start to talk openly about mental health.
“We have always offered support to our officers and staff, but we can always do better and we need to create an environment where people can feel comfortable enough to share any issues they may have.
“Mind are doing fantastic work and I am proud to sign the Blue Light Time to Change Pledge to underline our commitment to stamping out any discrimination within the workplace.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “Not only are many of our blue light personnel struggling with their mental health, but they’re less likely to seek support or have time off sick than the general workforce.
“Good mental health should be a priority in any workplace, but it is especially important that people exposed to traumatic or life-threatening situations – such as those working within the police, ambulance, fire and search and rescue services – receive appropriate support.
“By signing the Blue Light Time to Change Pledge, Northumbria Police is helping to fight stigma and promote positive mental health in emergency services.”