Highlands and Islands Division Urges People to Talk About Mental Health

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day (October 10, 2020), and Highlands & Islands Division is encouraging our officers, staff and everyone living in the communities we serve to open up about mental health, to talk and to listen.

Supporting our officers and staff with their mental health and tacking the stigma that can often be attached is one of our main priorities, and for the past ten months a dedicated mental health and well-being project officer – Kirst MacDonald (pictured) – has been supporting the Division in creating a plan which allows us to make continuous improvements to our culture, practice and policies on mental health.

The role is financially supported by Police Care UK’s 1in4 Fun, and Kirst works in collaboration with See Me, the national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

Highlands & Islands Division was the first employer in Scotland to employ someone specifically for the See Me in Work Programme, and is extremely proud to be leading on this unique partnership. 

Kirst said:

“Our officers and staff work extremely hard every day to keep people living in the Highlands and Islands safe, however it is absolutely crucial that they also take care of their own mental health and well-being to be able to deal with the challenging situations they can find themselves in.

“Working within an emergency service can involve trauma as a core part of the job and it is of great comfort to me that the Division acknowledges that it needs to support its officers and staff in ensuring that they are mentally well and can continue to provide the best possible service and response to communities.

“On this very important global awareness day, I want to take this chance to encourage absolutely everyone to make one small change, or take one action, to help look after your mental health or the mental health of someone else.

“Making positive change might seem hard, especially during uncertain times, and it can be difficult to know where to start.

“However, I urge you to use today to take that first step whether it’s going for a walk, doing something creative, reaching out to talk to someone, or seeking support from an organisation designed to help. 

“I started in my role at Police Scotland in February and none of us could have imagined what a turn the year would take.

“Looking after our mental health has always been vital but as we all feel the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, it has never been more important to continue to raise awareness and encourage conversations around the subject.

“It is important that we tackle the stigma surrounding mental health together.”

See Me’s health, social care and workplace manager, Dr Patty Lozano Casal, said:

“It’s vital that workplaces, especially those like the police where employees can face highly stressful and traumatic situations, have supportive work cultures where people feel safe to speak out without the fear of being judged or dismissed, know who they can speak to and where to go for support.

“So, we’re delighted to be working with Police Scotland’s North Division and Kirst, who are leading the way in tackling mental health stigma and discrimination to make it easier for staff to open up.

“Kirst has taken on a number of our campaigns and activities, as well as developing her own brilliant ideas, and has had huge success in rolling them out across the division, so everyone knows that it is okay not to be okay.”

For further information and advice about mental health visit – 

https://www.seemescotland.org/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

https://www.samh.org.uk/