A leading mental health charity has expressed its concern over the suspension of applications at a rehabilitation centre for sick and injured police officers.
Flint House, which treats thousands of serving and retired officers every year, announced earlier this week that it would have to turn away those seeking psychological support for the “foreseeable future” because its waiting list has grown so long.
Mind, the mental health charity, told i that the development was part of a wider problem across the country.
“It’s not surprising that so many police officers are seeking psychological support from Flint House rehabilitation centre,” Faye McGuinness, Blue Light Programme Manager at Mind, said.
“We know that stress and mental health problems are common among those working in the field.”
More worryingly, Mind’s research has found that 9 in 10 staff and volunteers working in the emergency services – police, fire, ambulance and search and rescue – have suffered from some kind of mental ill health at work, and that 27 per cent had even contemplated taking their own life.
“It’s really important blue light workers are given the emotional support they need to be able to be at their best when carrying out their incredibly difficult and life-saving roles,” Ms McGuinness added.
“We know there’s a high demand for the vital services provided by centres like Flint House.”
One possible suggestion for the sudden rise in applications for psychological support – and one suggested by Flint House’s communications manager Kevin Bishop – is an increase in awareness around the need for good mental health.
“The surge in referrals could indicate police are better at identifying when they are struggling with poor mental health, and seeking support, perhaps due to increased awareness and reduced stigma,” Ms McGuinness explained.
Nevertheless, figures revealed in a Police Federation study last week showed that 92 per cent of police officers feel their psychological difficulties have been caused or made worse by work, a development the group’s chairman Steve White called “truly alarming”.
To add to that, 21,500 officers have left forces across England and Wales in the last seven years while violent crime is up 24 per cent in the same time period.
A Home Office spokesperson said the Government takes the issue of police welfare “very seriously”, adding that it donated £1.5m to Mind’s Blue Light Programme last November.
Anyone who wishes to speak to the Blue Light Infoline can do so confidentially on 0300 303 5999 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.