Mental health is just like our physical health – we need to take care of it just as much as we need to take care of our bodies.
It’s been shown that 1 in 4 of us are affected by mental health issues in any one year. Even though over recent years there is much more awareness of it, there is still a stigma attached to mental health problems.
Individuals might not recognise that they have a problem, don’t feel like they can talk about it or may not know that there is help available if they need it.
That’s why we are supporting World Mental Health Day 2018 to keep raising awareness of mental wellbeing and provide some advice about what to do if you need support, or if someone you know does.
As a force our officers meet and speak with so many different people every day who live and work in the communities we serve. Some of the criminal behaviour we deal with can be down to a person having mental health problems.
This can range from everyday worries and stress, to having addiction problems, to serious long-term conditions which can result in someone acting in a strange manner, antisocially or aggressively.
One of our main priorities is to protect vulnerable individuals, and we work hard alongside our partner agencies to provide the support that person might need.
In our Force Control Room we have a dedicated team from the mental health charity MIND who provide a vital service when we deal with incidents. That way we can assess if someone needs help immediately at the point that a 999 or 101 call comes in.
Also there are services such as local authorities, charities and other support services that we can refer people to if needed.
But of course it’s not just the people we serve who have problems - our own officers have times when they need help themselves.
Sergeant Martina Akrill from Hull’s Community Policing team experienced a serious assault as a younger officer. She shares her story below:
“I was stabbed on duty as a young police officer 15 years ago and I’d never even considered the impact it would have upon my own mental health or on that of others around me.
“Coming from a military family and being a police officer, talking about emotions felt like a sign of weakness and because I didn’t talk I suffered for a long time and became very angry.
“Anger is a natural response to trauma. It is part of being human and sometimes it can be useful if it motivates us to create change, if it identifies triggers to a forthcoming crisis, or helps us defend ourselves when in the face of danger.
“But anger can also be extremely destructive and can have negative impacts on both physical and mental wellbeing. It can contribute to mental health concerns, but it can also be a symptom of some mental health concerns.
Sergeant Akrill added: “There are things you can do to manage anger that overwhelms you. To keep my own mind healthy I took up running on a regular basis and joined a running group which helped me to widen my circle of friends.
“Whilst running might not be for everyone, any form of exercise gives your mind time to concentrate on something else even just for a short while, whilst keeping your body physically active.
“I also raise money for a local charity. This helps to keep me focussed, motivated and turn bad experiences into something more positive and productive.
“Now I view my experiences as a gift. A gift I can share with others in crisis or in need of some support to try and help normalise their response to trauma.”
Sergeant Akrill has offered up some of her own advice:
Look out for warning signs: Anger gives a rush of adrenaline and affects the way your body reacts. Look out for a heart beating faster, faster breathing, a tense body and foot tapping.
Buy yourself time to think: Get away from the situation to cool down, go for a short walk or find a trusted friend or colleague to talk to.
Find techniques to help you manage your emotions: Slow breathing, hit a pillow, distract yourself and try mindfulness techniques/apps.
Learn your triggers: Develop coping strategies and consider keeping a diary or make notes about the times you have felt angry and why to enable you to identify any emerging patterns. You could use a free app like Mood Panda to track your mood and get anonymous support http://moodpanda.com/
Examine your thought patterns: Look at how you interpret situations. Apps such as Mood Gym can assist you in learning and practising skills to help you manage symptoms of anxiety and depression. https://moodgym.com.au/
Develop your communication skills: Being excessively angry can get in the way of communicating your feelings effectively.
Look at your lifestyle: Develop emotional resilience, get good sleep and learn how to deal with pressure through diet and exercise.
Further information and details can be found on the MIND website at the following link: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-probl...
There are many resources available online if you want read more. Please click on the link below for more information and about our previous support of Mental Health Awareness Week earlier this year:
You can also read more by following social media updates online throughout the day #WMHDay