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Time to Talk Day supported by PCC Vera Baird

2nd February 2017

Northumbria Police has today written to the editors of national and regional media outlets offering its support to national Time to Talk Day on Thursday (February 2).

Time to Talk Day is aimed at getting the nation talking and listening about mental health. Many people with mental health issues feel isolated, ashamed and worthless, they suffer in silence and other people’s reactions stop them from getting the help and support they need.

Members of the emergency services are at a higher risk of experiencing a mental health problem than the general population but are less likely to seek support.

In fact, a survey by Mind revealed that 9 in 10 (87 per cent) of emergency services staff and volunteers have experienced stress, low mood and poor mental health at some point.

Talking about mental health can make a huge difference – conversations about mental health can change lives.

The force has taken great strides to ensure the welfare of the workforce and has made a huge investment in improving wellbeing across the organisation.

Last year Chief Constable Steve Ashman and Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC signed Mind’s Blue Light Time to Change Pledge.

As part of that pledge, supervisors across the force have been trained in how to recognise the signs of poor mental health so they can offer advice and support to those who need it.

Assistant Chief Constable Darren Best is the force’s ambassador for the Blue Light Programme – delivered by Mind to provide mental health support for emergency services staff and volunteers from police, search and rescue, fire and ambulance services across England.

ACC Best said: “We have made a huge investment in wellbeing and it is very much a priority for us. Our staff deal with difficult and challenging situations on a daily basis and it is only natural this will have an affect on wellbeing. We want to make sure our workforce is supported and have the best possible support at their fingertips.

“Sadly some stigma surrounding mental health still exists. The nature of our job means a lot of our staff may need some form of support during their career. That is nothing to be ashamed of and we should not be afraid of talking about it.

“We work closely with the Blue Light Programme ensuring our staff have specialist support, we have Blue Light Champions across the organisation who are there to talk providing staff with the opportunity to speak with someone in confidence about what they are experiencing.

“Every champion has received specialist training to help support officers and staff when they need it.

“Creating lasting change in our approach to wellbeing is important to us. That is why we’re publicly offering our support to Time to Talk Day, being open about mental health and being ready to listen can make a positive difference to someone’s life.

“On Thursday, we will be encouraging our staff it is Time to Talk.”

Northumbria Police and  Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC, said: “Ensuring those with mental ill health receive the appropriate care when in contact with the police is a priority for Northumbria Police, but the commitment absolutely doesn’t end there – the force has a duty of care, which extends to our officers and staff too. Mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness and that is why in Northumbria great importance is placed on ensuring our workforce has access to appropriate support should it be needed I will ensure this commitment to the welfare of our workforce continues.”

Some of the other steps Northumbria Police has taken includes:-

– Mindful Meditation Sessions have been held across the organisation by staff trained in mindful meditation techniques and as part of World Mental Health Day last October we worked in partnership with the NHS on their campaign #PeoplenotPlasters to show support for those facing mental health difficulties.

– Northumbria Police is leading on setting up a regional Blue Light Choir, in partnership between Sage Gateshead, NEMind, and the regional emergency services, after numerous research projects identified the benefits of singing on wellbeing.

– Regular wellbeing events, supported by charities and organisations who focus on health and wellbeing. The events provide advice and guidance to the workforce as well as opportunities to sample some of the services they can provide for staff.

– Appointing a Wellbeing and Engagement Manager.