Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens and police will be taking part in a national campaign to encourage more people to talk about mental health on Thursday, 4 February. Time to Talk Day has been organised as part of the national campaign Time to Change which is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
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.
As part of Time to Talk Day, the PCC and staff and officers across the force will pledge how they plan to help reduce mental health stigma and look out for those around them.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “Mental health and policing is a subject that I am very passionate about. It’s incredibly important that people suffering any level of mental health crises have access to the right support, from the right people, in the right place, whether that’s talking to someone or seeking professional help.
“Mental health is a huge issue across the whole of the UK and locally we’ve come a long way in working with partners to deliver the Mental Health Concordat. It’s important that we encourage more people to talk about mental health problems starting with officers and staff, not only on this Time to Talk Day but every day.”
Neighbourhood police teams will also be spreading the message on the day, asking members of the public to make a Time to Talk Day pledge. They will also be encouraged to start conversations about mental health – 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 go a long way to help improve someone’s mental wellbeing and create a stronger, healthier community.
Why are we supporting Time to Talk Day?
Mental health affects us all – our communities, our work, our colleagues.
Police officers and staff 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.
Chief Constable, Andy Marsh said: “Encouraging conversation is an important part of supporting those affected by mental health in our communities and in our workplace. Mental health issues affect our force in many different ways – whether that is through dealing with the public or through our own staff and officers. I am proud to be supporting Time to Talk Day as a springboard for helping reduce the stigma of mental health issues and have made my pledge to ensure my staff will get the right support when they need it.”
The police 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, PCC Sue Mountstevens and 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 Bristol Street Triage scheme which has been running from the Bridewell police station 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 supported by the correct service.
For more details about Time to Talk Day visit www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday
For more details about the Blue Light Programme visit www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/bluelight/
Posted on Thursday 4th February 2016