Mental health stigma entrenched in Victoria Police

mental healthVictoria Police’s “suck it up” culture has created a widespread mental health crisis within the force, a damning report has found as reported by The Age.

Hundreds of officers are on leave for psychological issues and three have died by suicide since October.

The report finds a macho culture inside the force is doing more mental health damage to some officers than the traumatic events they attend.

It was a constant theme from some of the 450 officers who participated in the review.

“Give me a dead body to look at over a poor manager to deal with anytime,” one leading senior constable wrote.

Another officer spoke about hearing two police talking to each other and providing informal support after the suicide of a colleague two days earlier.

“A sergeant walked by, paused and said to them, ‘Do you want to be f—ing social workers or police officers?’ ” the officer wrote.

A sergeant told the review his first ever job concerned the death of a child.

“My sergeant moved the box of tissues away from me and told me that I needed to suck it up,” he said.

he Victoria Police Mental Health Review has made 39 recommendations, all of which Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has promised to implement to tackle the crisis.

The recommendations include wide-ranging educational and resilience programs that start the day police join and the establishment of a Department of Veteran Affairs-style organisation for former police.

The review says an expanded psychology unit is urgently needed, as well as a dedicated psychology support unit for detectives investigating sexual offences against children.

Released on Tuesday, the review was commissioned by Mr Ashton last October following the suicide of a policewoman at her work in Seaford.

Since then, another two officers had taken their own lives. Since the year 2000, 23 officers have done so. There are currently more than 200 police off work with mental health issues.

There is no way to measure how many former officers are mentally unwell or have killed themselves.

The 90-page report, resulting from a review led by psychologist Dr Peter Cotton, is littered with harrowing remarks about the impact of policing on mental health. To read more click here.

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