Police chiefs reaffirm pledge to tackle mental health stigma
Wiltshire Police has recommitted its pledge to end mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace.
As Mental Health Awareness Week (14 -20 May) concludes Chief Constable Kier Pritchard and Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson have resigned the Blue Light Pledge Time to Change Pledge which the Force originally signed in 2016.
The signing took place at Gablecross Police Station in Swindon, with both Kier and Angus pledging their support to the Blue Light Programme, promoting a better understanding of mental health problems, while offering support and well-being advice to staff and officers.
Angus said: "Together with Wiltshire Police I am committed to ensuring that we continue talking about mental health, with our staff and with the public.
"It now accounts for 25% of police time in one way or another. Our mental health triage team has proven itself to be absolutely vital to our officers, staff and volunteers on the frontline when dealing with mental health related incidents.
"By signing the blue light pledge again we are reaffirming our commitment to eradicate the stigma associated with mental health and to keep the conversation going.
"No matter what rank, we will continue to support officers, staff and volunteers from across the Force and ensure that they do the same in our communities."
Kier said: "Mental health is just as important as physical health. It doesn't always stay the same and can change as circumstances at home or at work change, as we move through different stages in our lives.
"This week long campaign has really given us an opportunity to keep talking and I'm determined to remove the stigma that exists around talking about our own mental health.
"Inside every uniform is a person dealing with human emotions and responses. What I'd like to see is a world class organisation, where officers and staff get the support they need. By signing the Blue Light Pledge again we're showing our commitment to make sure we continue to acknowledge, understand, act and support our colleagues. It's our fundamental duty."
All this week, Special Constable Emily Clark, who is also a PA at Police HQ, has been cycling - along with a team of supportive colleagues - the equivalent distance from Land's End to John O'Groats on static bikes; raising money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation and Wiltshire's MIND (mental health charity). And 'Team Emily' did it - a total of 879 miles over just five days.
Emily said: "I'm so happy that we've hit the mileage target as well as smashing through our cash target by raising over £1,000.
"The support through the week has blown me away; colleagues from across the Force have been so kind - from giving donations on-line or throwing some cash in to the collection bucket to people helping me hit the mileage by joining me through the week on the bikes - everyone has been amazing.
"I've even had members of the public turning up offering to cycle with me including a local vicar and my dad.
"I've needed that support too as my knees have been hurting, and just when you feel you can't go on someone will jump on the bike next to me which gives me the boost to keep going.
"I just want to thank everyone who's helped me achieve this in a week - I couldn't have done it without you all."
Kier said: "I'm enormously proud of Emily and what she's achieved, individually and collectively, with her strong team of supporters. Her energy and enthusiasm have been infectious."
Angus added: "Emily truly is a wonderful individual. She has been incredibly candid and open this week about her own mental health and she is an absolute credit to herself and the Force.
"I'm so very proud of what she has achieved and hope that she's able to have a well-deserved break this weekend."