Mental health of police officers ‘is being sidelined’

Freedom of Information response shows thousands of officer and staff days lost due to mental health.

Mental health of police officers ‘is being sidelined’ SNS Group

The mental health of police officers is being “sidelined” and a staff survey should be carried out urgently, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have said.

A freedom of information response from Police Scotland to the party said that 126,114 officer and staff days were lost due to mental health issues between January 2019 and September 2020.

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur said the force should repeat its staff survey, which has not been carried out since 2015.

Just 8% of respondents to the 2015 survey said they though the police force was genuinely interested in staff wellbeing.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf has said he expects the next survey will take place this month.

Mr McArthur said: “These figures show the brutal toll that mental ill-health is taking on the national force.

“We expect the police to deal with vulnerable people in their moments of greatest need, yet the Scottish Government has failed to provide officers with the support they need to manage their own mental health.

“But these figures only offer a glimpse of what officers and staff experience. In the six years since the first full staff survey provided a worrying insight, Freedom of Information requests have repeatedly shown a situation getting worse. More days than ever are being lost to mental health.

“Covid can only have made things more difficult.

“The Scottish Government and Police Scotland need to make the new survey a priority, so they can get to grips with what’s going on behind the scenes.

“The mental health of officers and staff cannot be sidelined.”

Responding to the Liberal Democrats, Police Scotland’s director of people Jude Helliker said: “The safety and wellbeing of officers and staff is a key priority for Police Scotland.

“Policing is a rewarding and challenging vocation and I would encourage any officers and staff to discuss any concerns with their line manager or supervisor.

“In addition, there is a range of support mechanisms available to our people, including an employee assistance programme, a wellbeing champion network and post trauma support.

“The chief constable has committed to bring forward additional initiatives to support wellbeing, including the rollout of mental fitness resilience and coping strategy training.

“We are fully committed to our people survey and will support participation to maximise the value of this important initiative and we will advise officers and staff as progress is made.”

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