Wiltshire Police has become the latest organisation to join the growing number of emergency service employers and associations showing their commitment to ending mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace by signing the Blue Light Time to Change pledge.
The signing ceremony took place at Police Headquarters in Devizes yesterday, and Chief Constable Mike Veale and Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson, pledged their support to the Blue Light Programme, promoting a better understanding of mental health problems, while offering support and wellbeing advice to their staff and volunteers.
Mr Veale said: “Our officers, staff and volunteers can sometimes find themselves dealing with traumatic incidents, especially those on the front line, therefore it is vital that the appropriate support is in place for them, should they ever need it.
“By signing the Blue Light Time to Change pledge we are showing our support to ending mental health stigma in the workplace. Although a small step, it is definitely a step in the right direction and we will continue to do all that we can to promote better understanding, offer the appropriate support and ensure society does not discriminate against those people suffering with mental health problems.”
Mr Macpherson said: “I am pleased that my office and Wiltshire Police have been able to show our support for mental health services by signing up to the Blue Light Time to Change pledge.
“Many people in our communities struggle with mental health and require the care of trained professionals in safe and suitable accommodation. Too often they have ended up in police cells which can be stressful for the individuals concerned. It is important that police officers have the knowledge and skills to support those in crisis and direct them to suitable services for support.
“It is also important that this pledge extends to those working in blue light services including our officers, staff and volunteers.
“Their work can often be stressful and at times traumatic. Through this pledge we are acknowledging the importance of good mental health, the value of having good services available within our force and recognising the need to remove the stigmas surrounding mental health.”
Wiltshire Police joins the wide movement of emergency service employers and associations that have pledged to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination, including Derbyshire Fire and Rescue, Kent Fire and rescue, Kent Police, Leicestershire Police, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
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, Wiltshire Police is helping to fight stigma and promote positive mental health in emergency services.”