The press have today scooped to a new low in attacking police officers whilst appearing to trivialise the important issue of mental illness.
The mirror has run with the headline “Stressed police officers took 250,000 sick days last year - and blame pressure of staff cuts” (Tuesday 11th February 2014)
The daily Mail headline: Figures reveal 800 police officers are off sick with stress in England and Wales costing the taxpayer £29m a year (Sunday 9th February 2014)
I have suffered with depression for over 10 years even though it wasn’t diagnosed until 2007 and its not easy to live with, even with medication the illness is still with me and regularly taps me on the shoulder to remind me it still there. it nearly ruined my life, I wanted to kill myself. Each day i would think of the quickest way to do it, no-one would miss me, no-one would care, these are the things that were going through my mind, I tried pushing people away, my family, my wife and work colleges, my work pressures didn’t push me over the edge in fact work was furthest from my mind through my darkest days. people need to realise that depression can strike anytime. it doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t go round thinking oh your a bit weak I am going to ruin your life.
To me it appears that the press are saying that police cannot suffer from depression or stress and if we do then we are not fit to do the job. the last time i looked I am the same as joe blogs who works in a shop, on a building site, or in a pub, if I’m cut i bleed, if you upset me it hurts, after all I am human. Police officers are just that they are human.
with figures that 1 in 4 adults will suffer with some form of mental illness in their life then with with 130000 police officers in the UK (2013 figures)then there is a chance that 32000 officers could suffer from a mental illness sometime with in their career, and with the pressures and stress along with the long hours and seeing and dealing with incidents which would leave anyone “scared for life” then there it is possible that they at high risk of suffering from a mental illness.
Would the press run with the story if the officers were off with a physical injury such as a broken leg, or arm, even injured because of an assault? no because it is something that can be seen. so why target officers suffering from a mental illness? just because it cant be seen doesn’t mean its not there. Comments like “pull yourself together” or “what have you got to be down about” which i hear on a weekly basis and sill hear people accuse me of being weak willed just shows how much work needs to be done
organisations like Mind (www.mind.org.uk) and time to change (www.time-to-change.org.uk) are working hard to try and combat the stigma of mental illness and the taboo which is often associated with it. We need people to talk openly about mental illness not hide it or be ashamed about it, seek help and cope with living with the illness. and we need people from all walks of life from shop workers to nurses to police officers to share there experiences. and all the time the press targeting police officers being off sick with mental illness then you are not going to have officers come forward to seek help with the risk of being seen as a failure, without help and support it can be a very lonely scary place.