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Saturday, June 12, 2021

“I’m living in eye of a storm” new charity to support police officers suffering from mental health

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A new charity has been launched to help and support police officers who have been shattered by the pressures of the job.

Cops Minds will help thousands of UK police officers with access to private counselling and health support.

Once a fundraising target has been reached they aim to launch a fast-track access scheme to urgent psychological support for those who have suffered keeping members of the public safe.

Charity Chair Trevor Sherwood. 32 told The Daily Express “The last 12 months have brought into sharp focus the work of tens of thousands of brave men and women of our police.

“But they are not immune to suffering. Many have been left shattered and exhausted by the job and the Covid crisis has exacerbated that.

“The incredible job they do is taken for granted but they keep us all safe. Cops Minds is Lead by three trustees which also include Diane Lewis who is based within Gateshead and Steve Cooper who is based within Devon.

“It’s now our job to get them fit and back to work.”

"I'm living in eye of a storm" new charity to support police officers suffering from mental health 1
Charity Chair Trevor Sherwood with Trustee Steve Cooper

A Police Officer’s Story of the real toll mental health takes.

The 46-year-old detective constable, a married father of two, was left contemplating suicide because of the mental toll of dealing with murder, rape, child abuse and fraud on a daily basis.

He said: “I feel like a shadow of myself. I struggle even though I was previously a top performer.

“I am still living within the eye of the storm and every day is a struggle. I felt physically unable to talk to anyone and did not know who to contact for help.”

Cops Minds will Bridge the gap

Cops Minds says a good level of support is already out there and they are looking to support and compliment existing services which already exist, but from listening to officers accessing support is difficult and there can be lengthy waiting lists.

Cops Minds is not looking to do what other charities within policing are doing already we are simply looking to bridge a gap that exists by providing a bridge that will provide urgent funding to get officers booked into a local private psychologist even before officers mental health becomes a bigger issue.

Some officers simply will let things get on top of them by not approaching their force for help because they are simply afraid, we could provide support before they need to even contact their force and ask for help.

On average police officers are only offered an average of six counseling sessions through forces, although this can be extended the time between each session can mean the process can run into a year.

It is claimed that after six months off, some officers have received letters telling them they will be dropped to half pay and, after 12 months, to zero.

Cops Minds has promised to distribute urgent support grants to cover bills if wages drop. One in five officers suffers from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder, it was said. It is estimated mental health is costing the police up to £229million annually.

Sadly between 2011 and 2019, 138 officers sadly committed suicide because they did not have the right support in place, they felt like they had nowhere to turn.

John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, said: “Our survey revealed almost 80 percent of officers struggled with mental health over the past 12 months.”

Hartlepool-based Cops Minds is run entirely by volunteers, who can arrange funding directly to psychologists or counsellors police officers are already using.

It has a £10,000 fighting fund but says it needs £150,000 a year as the true scale of the mental health crisis may not become clear until after the pandemic.

If you would like to donate to Cops Minds please click here to visit the fundraising page

Cops Minds is a nationwide charity and any officer is allowed to apply for support

Trevor Sherwood Said “We launched Cops Minds after we identified officers were generally only allowed access to six support sessions.

“More shockingly, we found officers off work with mental health issues were worried at facing half-pay and the risk of being medically discharged if these treatment sessions did not work.

“Support for police officers in crisis is slow. It can take a lot of time from going off sick to a supervisor filling in support forms or for welfare to be contacted.

“The level of counseling is good but it is not there for every officer as it’s a private subscription that has to be opted in to.

“The police treatment centers are brilliant but not all officers pay for this cover because they simply think they’ll never suffer physical or mental injuries on the line of duty.

“We will offer support alongside that already in place, giving officers access to extra treatment and extended sessions to help get them to get fit and ready for duty again.”

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"I'm living in eye of a storm" new charity to support police officers suffering from mental health 5
Sue Martin
Sue Martin is a Crime Reporter with Police Hour. Sue Joined the Team in 2015. Sue mainly focuses on North East news and incidents on Teesside. If you have got a story then why not email sue@policehour.co.uk

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