Despite mental health problems affecting one in four people every year, stigma and discrimination still exist when it comes to talking about the subject. Many people are afraid to talk about their experiences for fear it will affect their job or friendships.
That is why today we are supporting Time to Talk Day - part of the national campaign Time to Change run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness - aimed at reducing stigma and encouraging more people to talk freely about mental health and how it affects them.
As part of Time to Talk Day, staff and officers across the force have pledged how they plan to help reduce mental health stigma and look out for those around them. Including our mental health champion DC Lisa Finch (pictured below): “We’re all human. We all have mental health. Talking about it makes a big difference. If you find our campaign on mental health affects you personally, please remember to talk to someone.”
Passing on a surprising fact or telling someone about the Time to Talk Day campaign will help more people realise how common mental health problems are. Saying a friendly hello to a neighbour, asking how colleagues are or popping into see an elderly relative more regularly are all small gestures that can also go a long way to help improve someone’s mental wellbeing, reduce loneliness and create a stronger, healthier community.
Mental health affects us all – our communities, our work, our colleagues. Our staff and officers come into contact with people with mental ill-health on a regular basis. At least 30% of police time is estimated to be spent dealing with issues around mental ill-health and in one year just four people accounted for almost 5,000 calls to 999 and 101 in Avon and Somerset.
Findings from a report commissioned by Victim Support in 2013 also found that 45 per cent of people with severe mental illness had been victims of crime in the previous year.
According to the charity Mind, the estimated quarter of a million people who work and volunteer in the emergency services are also at a higher risk of experiencing a mental health problem compared with the general population.
We are working to support people with mental health problems inside and outside of the force. For example:
To set out what the force will do to combat stigma and support employees affected by mental health issues, Temporary Chief Constable Gareth Morgan signed the Blue Light Programme Pledge in October. This is part of the Blue Light Programme run by the mental health charity Mind to provide mental health support to emergency services staff and volunteers.
A range of work is being carried out by the force to help people with mental health issues it comes into contact with. This includes a street triage scheme which has been running from the Bridewell police station in Bristol since September 1 and sees officers working with mental health professionals to reduce the number of people being detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and ensuring they are diverted to the correct service for them.
For more details about Time to Talk Day visit Time to Change
For more details about the Blue Light Programme visit Mind