Wiltshire's Chief Constable talks about his mental health

Kier Pritchard Wiltshire Police

Published by Henrietta Creasey at 5:48am 17th May 2018

Kier Pritchard knows what it’s like to struggle with mental health – having coped with a traumatic incident himself.

Wiltshire's top police officer has opened up about his own struggle with mental health.

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard says he needed "emotional support" following the death of a colleague from suicide a few years ago.

"At the time, I wasn't coping well at work or at home; I wasn't sleeping well, I was anxious and irritable, I felt angry, guilty and sad - a whole host of emotions - and I could see that my work and family were suffering. "

Wiltshire Police has long recongised the importance of providing psychological support to staff who are involved in traumatic events and over 10 years ago introduced TRIM (Trauma Incident Management), a system used to assess the need for psychological support after a critical incident and offer peer to peer support using trained TRIM practitioners.

It was this every system that helped Kier Pritchard.

"The Force reached out to me and offered me TRIM - I didn't seek it out - they came to me. Once I'd accepted that I needed help, I really embraced the whole process and felt as though a weight had been lifted from me.
"My reaction, as is the case for many, was normal - it was the event that was abnormal. Being able to talk about it in confidence with a fellow officer - someone who understood - was invaluable."

The daily job police officers and staff do means that they are often exposed to extremely stressful situations.

During the Salisbury spy poisoning incident TRIM was used by a total of 90 officers and staff who needed support and help from the service offered by Wiltshire Police's Occupational Health Unit.

Kier said:

"As is the case day in, day out - our officers and staff walk towards danger while others are walking away; and there was nothing more extreme than the situation in Salisbury. This service offered to the Force is invaluable - giving people the support when they need it. TRIM for Wiltshire Police has influenced how we as an organisation talk about mental health. The understanding that it's normal and okay to experience an emotional response to a traumatic event has really helped to reduce the stigma around this important issue."

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, figures show mental health issues will affect two thirds of people during their lifetime.

If you've been affected then there's more help here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

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