Today is a special day, and this photo and the story of Sarah Gates help to remind us how important today is. Sarah has worked for Sussex Police in Crawley for ten years where she has been at the forefront in delivering programmes such as placing mental health nurses to work in police custody suites and the provision of places of safety. According to someone who I know quite well, Chief Superintendent Diane Roskilly “Sarah has worked tirelessly to improve the experience of people who come into contact with the police or criminal justice system and are suffering with mental health.” Di Roskilly was one of the people who nominated Sarah for her OBE which she recently received, hence the photo. The reason why this is so relevant today, is that today is World Mental Health Day and probably Sarah is hard at work implementing its theme which is psychological first aid. Perhaps more importantly whatever Sarah is doing, is that as a result of her work and other pioneers within Sussex Police including the Chief Constable Giles York, that the way in which many of the officers now focus on mental health issues will mean that some of the people who are mentally unwell and come into contact with Police Officers will be treated more considerately and more gently as a result of this hard work. Of course there are others whose experience of the police is far from perfect and this is a reminder of the change that is needed and is happening, not an acknowledgement of a job completed. In many senses the harder people like Sarah work, the more they see that we have so much further to go, not just in the police and other public services, but in society at large. It is not difficult for many of us to see mental health conditions in our own lives or those around us. I know that I could do far more to assist those who I work with for their own health and the health of the people they meet every day. I will use the provocation of today to raise the issue of mental wellbeing with colleagues where I work.
The Mental Health Foundation has produced a very helpful piece on their website on the theme of Traumatic Events and how to deal with them. It is well worth a read, as according to their words, one in three of us has been impacted.