Today (Monday 9 May) marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and this year the focus is on raising awareness of the impact of loneliness.
Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday (15 May), is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation which has put together a range of resources which can be accessed via its website.
Dan Lever, wellbeing and equality lead at Cheshire Police Federation, supports the week but says that everyone needs to ensure there is a focus on mental wellbeing during all 52 weeks of the year.
“Mental Health Awareness Week is an amazing way to put the spotlight on people’s mental and emotional wellbeing,” says Dan, “However, we all have to keep wellbeing front and centre all year round.
“I am really pleased that in recent years we have been able to break down the stigma around mental health and I have noticed that police officers are becoming far more open about any struggles they are having with their mental wellbeing.
“As a Federation, our message is quite simple: if you feel you are struggling, get in touch, if you feel one of your colleagues is suffering, get in touch. We can help people access help and support. No one should feel embarrassed to come forward.
“We are finding this message is getting through, certainly in terms of mental health issues, but where are concerned is around people’s financial wellbeing, and we know that this is an area where they are reluctant to admit they are facing difficulties.
“Money worries can have a huge impact on someone’s mental health and wellbeing and officers should not feel reluctant to come forward if they are finding it hard to make ends meet.”
Dan fears that with the cost of living crisis starting to bit many officers could be facing a bumpy road ahead.
He has already been out around the Force giving presentations around financial wellbeing and is working with the Force to ensure that managers are aware of the need to look out for the signs not just of work-related pressures but also personal pressures such as financial difficulties.
The Federation is also working in partnership with Police Mutual and No1 CopperPot, both of which provide tailored financial support for police officers.
“We are doing all we can to make sure we can help officers get help with their finances,” Dan explains, “We are aware of officers who are using food banks because they just don’t have enough money to cover all their outgoings including their food shop and I know that some officers are having to look at their regular salary deductions for things such as their pension, their Federation subscription, the Police Treatment Centres or the Benevolent Fund.
“How does someone make a decision on which of these should go? They are all really important in terms of what they provide to officers and it is quite shocking that officers are having to face this dilemma.”
- Officers and staff are being asked to consider donating items to food bank collection points around the Force area. The food banks collect tinned, dried and non-perishable items, such as rice and pasta, or food stuffs with long sell-by/use-by dates. You can also give cash donations – perhaps loose change after visiting canteens or tuck shops.