Walsall cop urges others to seek help with mental health after revealing his own struggle
A Pelsall police officer has opened up about his struggles with mental health to mark Men's Health Week.
Deputy chair of West Midlands Police Federation Jason Dooley urged others to seek help if their mental health takes a dip.
He said: “Everyone has a breaking point, even police officers - even me, ‘big, old Jase’.”
The 52-year-old father of two's mental health health suffered after his marriage broke down.
He said: “Our mental health is like a glass. It fills up and fills up, until it overflows. My glass was overflowing.
"It’s probably been filling up for the past 28 years since I joined the Force - but back then, no one talked about anxiety or stress, we just got on with it and went down to the pub after a shift to debrief. Things have changed, you don’t often speak to your mates like that anymore.”
The police officer, who was given a bravery award in 2018 for catching intruders into his Pelsall home, was in denial about his mental health, and found that taking on additional hours at work, helped to keep his mind off how he was feeling.
He added: “I’d become tired, lethargic and I had no energy. I didn’t have the enthusiasm to go out anymore, I couldn’t be bothered - and that had started to impact my daughter too. I should have been out at the park with her, out watching her ride her bike or kicking a football about.
“I knew something wasn’t right and I tried to hide it by working more. It was my best mate who noticed the changes and started to ask me if everything was OK. He would come round and see that I wasn’t myself, I was upset - he said I needed to talk to someone.
“There’s a history of cancer in my family, so I was worried it could be related to that - so I went to the doctors.”
After negative blood tests confirmed he did not have cancer, the doctor started to ask Jason about depression.
He said: “I remember thinking, me - depressed? No, not me. And then all of a sudden, I just couldn’t stop crying,” admitted Jason, who has since been supported by his doctor.
“If I hadn’t gone to the doctor, I would have been severely depressed now.”
Jason has already noticed a huge difference in his mental health.
He added: “The last Bank Holiday, I would’ve been searching for overtime but instead, I spent quality time with my daughter - we went to the park three times and went out on her scooter, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I feel so much better now and hope that by sharing my story, it will encourage others to start asking themselves, ‘am I OK?’
“And, if you’re not feeling 100 per cent, then speak to someone. And if you have any concerns about your mental health, go and see your doctor - and remember, you can use the group insurance scheme through the Federation if you need financial help.
“The first step really is talking about it. I’m ‘Big Jase Dooley’ and I suffer too - it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”