'Well-being dogs' part of efforts to support well-being of Hartlepool's police officers

‘Well-being dogs’ are part of efforts being used by Hartlepool’s police force to support officers and staff.

Sunday, 10th October 2021, 3:05 pm
Sol, one of the well-being dogs

Cleveland Police has been making national World Mental Health Day, which takes place on October 10, and highlighting support systems operating across the force.

World Mental Health Day is a global event that helps people and workplaces to recognise the importance of improving access to mental health information and encourages people to speak out, and reach out, if they’re suffering in silence.

Cleveland Police’s director for People and Development, Lynne Swift, said: “Life has been tough for everyone during the pandemic. Our daily lives have changed considerably, the months of lockdown and loss have had a huge impact on our mental health.

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Bella, one of the support dogs.

“At Cleveland Police we continue to support the wellbeing of our officers and staff through a range of initiatives within the force.

"Policing is a challenging profession and dealing with trauma and risk to life on a day-to-day basis can affect officer and staff wellbeing.

“The support available encourages our officers and staff to talk about their mental health and ask for help if they need it.

"In turn, this assists our officers and staff when supporting the mental health of those we help when protecting the most vulnerable people in our community.

“As a Force, we’re proud to support World Mental Health Day and I want our officers and staff and the public to know that sometimes it’s okay not to be okay.”

In July, the force welcomed its first ‘Oscar Kilo OK 9’ Wellbeing and Trauma Support dogs.

Bella, a one-year-old female Labrador and Husky cross, and Sol, a nine-year-old male Standard Poodle, are working with the force’s Blue Light and Well-being Team on a programme of events.

Their handlers are trained in First Aid mental health and peer support, and are available, on a voluntary basis, to any officers and staff who may need signposting to other services available within the Force.

Alongside the Wellbeing and Trauma Support dogs, the Force has also recently worked in partnership with the Tees Suicide Prevention Task Force and the North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network to use suicide prevention resource tins in police stations.

The tins hold a range of resources with support numbers, information, advice and tips of what to say to someone in crisis, and aim to help officers and staff to look out for each other and encourage people to seek early help if they are struggling.

They can also be found in GP surgeries, pharmacies, Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments, care homes, hostels and other health care settings, and are also used by other emergency services’ agencies such as the Fire and Ambulance Service. Additionally, they can also be found in the local community in places such as hairdressers, community halls, gyms, job centres and educational settings.

Michelle Glenton, Cleveland Police’s well-being manager, said: “Access to health support in person was disrupted during the pandemic, and we’ve relied heavily on signposting people to online resources and information – and generally helping each other as best we could.

“I’m pleased that despite these challenging times we have been able to introduce new initiatives to our wellbeing programme, and we are always looking for new ways to help and support our officers, staff and members of the community.

“Through the recent introductions to the programme, and a committed team and network of Blue Light Champions, who help to break down stigma in the workplace, we remain committed to supporting mental health and wellbeing. Today on World Mental Health Day, and every day to come.”

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