Mike Rees, a former police officer and the only independent candidate for Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner, has pledged to take the mental health of police officers and staff seriously if elected.
Mike has also put his weight behind a national campaign Green Ribbon Policing created by founder and former police officer Sam Smith. Sam struggled with his mental health while a serving officer and found there was very little support when he really needed it.
Mike said, “Sam is campaigning for better mental health in policing. The campaign aims to get a mandatory national standard in mental health awareness, care and support within the police environment for the mental health and wellbeing for all police officers. I was really taken by his enthusiasm and drive because I too think this is very important.”
The Police Federation itself has found the mental health of serving officers is an increasing concern. A survey in 2016 of 17,000 officers showed 39% sought help. More than a quarter who had taken sick leave attributed it to stress, depression or anxiety. 65% went to work but admitted they probably shouldn’t have because of the state of their mental wellbeing.
A survey by the mental health charity Mind has also revealed that 5% of the police, fire, ambulance staff, volunteers, search and rescue specialists that they interviewed had attempted to take their own lives.
Mike said, “Mental health remains a major issue with one in five officers suffering from PTSD and I’d expect that figure to rise given what they face today.
“Aside from financial loss, the impact on the public is demonstrated by less available resources and potential poor attitude in service.
“Through talking to local officers, I know this also impacts Wiltshire Police and there’s room for improvement in mental health care.”
Mike has pledged that if he’s elected he will:
- Promote and support Green Ribbon Policing
- Ensure the force has trained Mental Health First Aiders across the county
- Signpost affected officers to services, both within the force or without, to find the help they need.
Mike who was born in the Rhondda Valleys, the son of a steelworker and a cleaner grew up on a council estate in South Wales. At the age of 18, he left to become a constable with Wiltshire Constabulary.
Most of his 30 years of policing service covered working in Swindon though his work also took him all over the county. He retired from policing in 2014 and went on to set up his own business, Forensiclean, which is based in Malmesbury.
To find out more about Mike and/or to follow him go to: www.facebook.com/M.R.PCC.W, Twitter @MikeRees_PCCW or his website www.mrpcc.co.uk
Pictured above: Mike Rees candidate for Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner