Hartlepool man launches new national charity to tackle mental health issues faced by police
A new national charity that aims to help thousands of police officers receive faster mental health support to return to duty has been launched in Hartlepool.
Cops Minds has been founded by Trevor Sherwood, 32, to tackle mental health problems associated with the job and to pay for private counselling sessions to speed up urgently needed support.
He said the level of official counselling provided is good but can take time and felt more could be done to support officers.
Trevor said officers are often afraid to ask for help for fear of losing their jobs as they face half pay and then the chance of being medically discharged.
Cops Minds aims to help officers earlier so they do not go on sick leave, or to provide bridging support between them diagnosed with a problem and receiving help offered by the force.
Trevor said: “There are charities out there doing a fantastic job to support the mental health of police officers but there’s no support in between.
"We want to be able to help police officers access more support sessions to truly support good mental health and well being to ensure our officers who have dedicated their lives supporting others can support themselves and return back to work.”
Trevor decided to start Cops Minds after a close friend, who works for a North East force, suffered a breakdown related to dealing with serious crimes such as rape and child abuse.
The 46-year-old detective constable said: "I’m married with two children and this has put a huge strain on my family.
“One of the biggest stigmas with suffering mental health is you feel paranoid you’ll lose your job.
"I am lucky my force supported me.”
After six months on sick leave officers are dropped to half pay, and after 12 months it can drop to nothing, although this is down to chief constables’ discretion.
Trevor added: “This is why Cops Minds will be offering officers access to extra treatment and extended sessions to help get them back to work and fit for duty to increase wellbeing and offer more support alongside the current support in place.”
Cops Minds is trying to raise £10,000 to fund the additional mental health support.
Trevor is chairman of the charity and it has two more volunteer trustees, Steve Cooper, a retired Devon and Cornwall policeman, and Diane Lewis from Gateshead, the widow of a former officer.
The Police Federation, which represents over 130,000 rank and file officers, says findings from its latest Demand, Capacity and Welfare Survey revealed almost 80% of officers have struggled with their mental health and well being over the past 12 months.
Trevor added: “We think that there’s going to be thousands of officers helped every year through the charity.
"At the moment the support we’re looking to offer is not out there. I think it is going to be a heavily relied upon service.”
People can donate to the charity at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/policing-mental-health-support
Or for more information on the charity see the website at www.copsminds.co.uk