Time to talk

02 Feb 2017 08:00 AM

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This Thursday (February 2) is Time to Talk Day - 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.

Sadly some stigma surrounding mental health does still exists and the nature of our job means 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.

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

At Northumbria Police we have taken great strides to ensure the welfare of our workforce and have invested a huge amount of time into improving wellbeing across the organisation.

As Northumbria Police's ambassador for the Blue Light Programme I want to tell you about some of this work.

Last year our 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.

We work closely with the Blue Light Programme, delivered by Mind, and have trained Blue Light Champions providing specialist support to our staff, our champions are there to talk to those with mental health problems as well as challenge the stigma around the topic and make positive changes to our approach to wellbeing.

Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) training has been provided to officers and staff, our practitioners provide post incident trauma support immediately after an incident and long-term.

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.

We hold 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.

Creating lasting change in our approach to wellbeing is important to us, we want our workforce to know there is support available to them and they can speak to someone in confidence about what it is they are experiencing. 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.

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