QLD police working to remove stigma for officers suffering mental health issues

qld police stigmaSenior Queensland police managers are hoping to break down the stigma of mental ill-health by encouraging more open discussion among officers.

First responders like police are over-represented when it comes to work-related trauma and suicide.

Three serving Queensland police officers have taken their own lives in the last year.

The latest data from Beyondblue found 110 first responders took their own lives between 2000–2012 and 62 were police officers.

Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd says he recently lost a close colleague to suicide, as reported by ABC News.

"That of course is the tragic end ... you can't bring them back," he said.

"What I also am aware of is the impact of those people who quietly and silently deal with mental health issues that don't end up in the catastrophic end but it is in their mind often."

He said the main role for management was to build resilience in staff.

"We can't prevent the stressful and confronting nature of what we as police face but what we can do is spend some time building up a healthy resilience on how best to deal with that," he said.

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) currently offers professional counselling to staff in addition to a peer-to-peer support network.

But in the last year, it also added an additional confidential phone service for those who want anonymous assistance.

Now, management is actively encouraging those who are feeling the pressure to speak up.

Repeated exposure to trauma is often part of the job.

Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the new approach by QPS management was a fundamental shift and was a positive reflection of what was happening in the broader community.

"We're dealing with decades of cultures in first-responder industries and agencies of 'suck it up sweetheart'," she said.

"Police, ambulance, SES and firies all around the country are actually, at a top leadership level, starting to sit up and talk about this stuff and take notice."

While data is kept about serving personnel, little is known about those who suffer from mental ill-health once they leave.

Beyondblue is about to launch the first nationwide survey to collect that crucial information.

In March it also launched a Good Practice Framework for first-responder agencies. To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

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