West Midlands Police face battle on mental health
West Midlands Police force has lost a combined 114 years of work due to officers suffering from mental health issues in one year, new figures have revealed.
The area police force lost 41,704 working days in 2018/19, which is a 25 per cent rise from 2013/14 when 33,204 days were lost, according to a Freedom of Information response.
In 2018/19 there were 6,488 officers in the force, so on average that means there were six sick days due to mental health for every officer of West Midlands Police force.
Richard Cooke, the chairman of West Midlands Police Federation, said workloads for officers are "huge".
He said: "We have got less resources overall but within that response units for instance are smaller so the individual experience of traumatic events is greater on the individual.
"An individual officer will see more traumatic events such as murder and violence and there has been an increase in assaults on officers which has been having an affect on their confidence and anxiety.
"Officers are operating in difficult conditions and their workloads are particularly huge.
"A lot of the time it is about people not sleeping and physical exhaustion and sometimes they just need time away.
"It's a unique job in that sense."
Mr Cooke said having the "appropriate number" of officers and encouraging them to talk more will help.
"What is going to help is having the appropriate number of officers to support the work load so that individuals don't feel that they are so under pressure to deal with more than they ought to," he added.
"It's also about encouraging officers to talk more and be more open about problems that they are having.
"Around the country there are officers who have killed themselves as they can't cope."
Also, the number of sick days last year taken due to musculo-skeletal issues or disorders by officers was 25,682, a drop from 43,043 in 2013/14.
The total number of sick days taken by officers in 2018/19 – except psychological or musculo-skeletal issues – was 58,939, a 14 per cent rise on the 2013/14 figure of 51,534.
Among the 76 categories listed for the total number of sick days were sunburn, drug or alcohol related problems, indigestion, a severe cold and poisoning.
Chris Thurley, assistant director of business partnering, said: “Our officers and PCSOs hold inherently challenging roles many of which carry considerable risk and over the last 12 months over a third of our workforce has had no absence.
"Various supportive measures include counselling, a physiotherapy service, general health checks and a 24/7 wellbeing service.”
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