After surveying over 450 current and former police officers and their families, an independent review into the mental health provisions of Victoria Police revealed a deeply entrenched ‘suck it up’ mentality.
This is but one of many reports released in the past year addressing the mental health of first responders and emergency services. The nature of emergency service work exposes first responders to inevitable trauma in addition to the everyday occupational stressors.
Six months on, Victoria Police is working extensively to improve their mental health support services and tackle the stigma that continues to prevent first responders from seeking help. Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has been vocal about creating a supportive culture. The Chief Commissioner initiated the review after noticing a worsening situation over the last few years. It was the death of three police officers by suicide last year that acted as a catalyst for the review.
Chief Commissioner Ashton has been clear about his commitment, explaining that “we need to build a culture that better understands mental health. A culture in which our employees feel safe to ask for help without fear of judgment or prejudice.”
Senior Police Psychologist Dr Alexandra West had been charged with the enormous task of putting into practice all 39 recommendations made by the Review and is currently in the process of reviewing current mental health initiatives.
Dr West will be speaking about her research and how to translate the findings into actions at the Mental Health Strategy for First Responders conference in Melbourne this March. Book by January 25th to save $300 on ticket prices.