Stress and poor psychological wellbeing widespread in the police service
Rank-and-file police officers in Humberside are severely affected by the stress of the job, with many suffering from poor psychological wellbeing.
This is the reality that came out following further analysis on results from a survey into police officer demand, capacity and welfare conducted by the Police Federation of England and Wales last year.
496officers Humberside responded to the survey.
The survey found that:
71% of respondents said that their workload was too high, which is higher than the national average
89% of respondents said that they experienced stress, low mood or anxiety
24% of respondents had suffered an injury due to work related violence and that injury required medical attention
Amongst the findings nationally;
66% of officers indicated that their workload was too high
67% disagreed or strongly disagreed that they were able to meet all of the conflicting demands on their time
35% of officers have been the recipient of an unarmed physical attack at least once per month over the last year
36% of officers reported having been attacked with a weapon at least once in the last year
70% disagreed or strongly disagreed that they have enough time to engage in proactive policing
67%agreed or strongly agreed that that they often had to work in crisis mode trying to do too much too quickly
73% said that their team/unit had a minimum officer staffing level
82% of respondents said that they don’t have enough officers in their team/unit and the vast majority said they generally don’t have enough officers to manage the demands faced
53% of officers reported that were ‘Never’ or ‘Rarely’ able to take their full rest break entitlement
80% of respondents acknowledged having experienced feelings of stress, low mood, anxiety, or other mental health and wellbeing difficulties
Nine out of ten (92%) of these indicated that their psychological difficulties had been caused or made worse by work
Only 21% of line managers had received training on supporting colleagues who have disclosed a mental health or wellbeing difficulty
42% of respondents reported that they were ‘Poorly’ or ‘Very poorly’ supported by the police service
The majority of respondents (59%) have used holiday or rest days to take time off due to the state of their physical health, and just over two fifths (42%) for psychological health
The most frequently cited reason for not seeking help was that officers ‘did not want to be treated differently (negatively)’, and a fear that ‘it would negatively affect my opportunities for promotion and/or specialisation’
Peter Musgrave, chair of Humberside Federation, said: “in a climate of reducing officer numbers and increasing demand on officers it comes as no surprise that our members are struggling, both in terms of increased workloads but also the knock on effects on their mental health. We will continue to work with the force as a critical friend to ensure that officers feel properly supported both in terms of workload but also the mental health challenges that many are facing. The staff are the lifeblood of the organisation and unhappy demoralised staff can only damage the service provided to the public.
PFEW’s Welfare Support Programme, involvement with Mind’s Bluelight, and ongoing work with forces and other representative bodies is directly helping officers and paving the way to fill the gaps in support services that can really make a positive difference to officers and their families.
Locally Humberside Police Federation is a supporter of the Employee Assistance Programme that provides vital support and advice to Humberside officers, we are also active participants in the Welfare and Benevolent Fund that supports all officers and staff in times of personal crisis. The force will be introducing a new People Deal that will hopefully go some way to helping to address some of the important issues that have been raised by our members. The force has already started this work by having mental health champions in the workplace to support their colleagues. We will support the force as much as we can to ensure that the People Deal is a success.
But all this will not work in isolation, fundamentally, officers need to feel that they can speak out when they need help and they can have confidence that the service will treat them with the utmost dignity and discretion to help get them back on track.
These findings are today’s reality and must not fall on deaf ears.