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Personal stories of stress and support show mental strength in policing

Police officers have exchanged powerful personal stories of stress and support while dealing with mental and physical health in an open and honest City of London Police event.

The force’s C.H. Rolfe Hall at Wood Street Police Station played host to a specially arranged officer and staff welfare event on Tuesday (1 August 2017), with a number of guests speakers giving the opportunity to hear stories about the impact that the realities of day-to-day policing can have on officers.

City of London Police Commander Dave Clarke and Chief Superintendent Glenn Maleary opened the event, which featured detailed and personal presentations by guests including Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent John Sutherland, author of ‘Blue: A Memoir — Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces’, which details his battle with depression and subsequent recovery.

In front of 100 guests from various emergency services, including London Ambulance Service (LAS), Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police (BTP), Ch Spt Sutherland spoke openly about how work led to him suffer a breakdown in early 2013, and explained his illness with a personal insight into what it is to be a police officer in Britain today.

BTP constable Richard Oakley, one of the first officers on the scene at Russell Square station on 7 July 2005, and City Police Sgt Mark Montgomery, spoke about their own past mental health issues as well as the treatment and support they received.

Superintendent Bill Duffy from the City of London Police arranged the event in recognition of the impact that dealing with the recent terror attacks in London and in Manchester has inevitably had on officer welfare.

He said: “The feedback we’ve already received from this event so far has been really positive – and has shown us the need to do more of these types of events. We’re already planning our next seminar, as it has been a great opportunity for people to listen and learn.

“This event was a way for us to focus on the welfare of the frontline officers of all the emergency services. In a few short months, the UK suffered four terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower disaster and all services face the continued strain of providing business as usual to our various communities.

“The day-to-day challenges of providing a modern, effective police force never decrease, and sickness and mental health issues are a reality for police forces across the country that we have to address.

“We wanted to give officers the opportunity to listen to those who have suffered, understand the signs and let them know that help is available without any stigma.”

If you’d like to learn more about mental health, and the help available, visit Mind, the national mental health charity committed to ensuring everyone gets the help and support they need, or call the Samaritans on 116 123.

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