Northumbria Police have underlined their commitment to ending mental health stigma by signing the Blue Light Time to Change Pledge.
Mental health problems affect one in four people every year but the stigma surrounding it means people are afraid to talk about their experiences because they fear it will affect their jobs or relationships.
Those people working within the emergency services are even more likely to experience problems due to the very nature of their job and the difficult incidents with which they are faced.
To support staff Northumbria Police already has a number of networks in place but Chief Constable Steve Ashman and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird have signed up to the Blue Light Programme which will offer further support to the workforce.
The programme, which is led by the charity Mind, promotes a better understanding of mental health problems and looks to end any form of discrimination in the workplace.
The Chief Constable said: “As a member of the emergency services, we are faced with incredibly difficult situations every day and it is vitally important that we start to talk openly about mental health.”
“We have always offered support to our officers and staff but we can always do better and we need to create an environment where people can feel comfortable enough to share any issues they may have.
“Mind are doing fantastic work and I am proud to sign the Blue Light Time to Change Pledge to underline our commitment to stamping out any discrimination within the workplace.”
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, said she was fully supportive of the Blue Light Programme.
She said: “Working for the emergency services can be extremely difficult at times and we are keen that support is available to colleagues when needed.
“The Chief Constable and I are fully committed to ensuring Northumbria Police is a place where colleagues can receive support when they need it.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “Not only are many of our blue light personnel struggling with their mental health, but they’re less likely to seek support or have time off sick than the general workforce.
“Good mental health should be a priority in any workplace but it is especially important that people exposed to traumatic or life-threatening situations - such as those working within the police, ambulance, fire and search and rescue services – receive appropriate support.
“By signing the Blue Light Time to Change Pledge Northumbria Police is helping to fight stigma and promote positive mental health in emergency services.”
Northumbria Police joins the wide movement of emergency service employers and associations that have pledged to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination within the workplace.
Other organisations who have already signed the pledge include Derbyshire Fire & Rescue, Kent Fire and Rescue, Kent Police, Leicestershire Police, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
For further information about Mind and the Blue Light Programme visit www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/bluelight.