Chief Constable Kier Pritchard knows what it’s like to struggle with mental health – having coped with a traumatic incident himself.
The daily job police officers and staff do means that they are often exposed to extremely stressful situations.
Being involved in a traumatic event can, for some, have a profound and lasting effect on people, their families and the way they cope at work.
Wiltshire Police has long recognised 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.
As a serving officer, Kier took advantage of the service following the death of a colleague a few years ago – something which drastically affected him at the time.
Kier said: “After the suicide of a colleague I sought help from TRIM as I knew this had had an emotional impact on me.
“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.
“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 service was first class.”
During the recent major incident in Salisbury 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.”