Police - how to manage your mental wellbeing

Explains how to manage mental wellbeing if you work in the police service, including how to build resilience and where to go for support.

Your stories

What is mental health and mental wellbeing?

Taryn blogs about mental health and wellbeing. What do they mean to you?

Taryn Ozorio
Posted on 24/01/2011

About mental wellbeing

What is mental wellbeing?

Mental wellbeing describes your mental state – how you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life. Our mental wellbeing can change, from day to day, month to month or year to year.

If you have good mental wellbeing (or good mental health), you are able to:

  • feel relatively confident in yourself – you value and accept yourself and judge yourself on realistic and reasonable standards
  • feel and express a range of emotions
  • feel engaged with the world around you – you can build and maintain positive relationships with other people and feel you can contribute to the community you live in
  • live and work productively
  • cope with the stresses of daily life and manage times of change and uncertainty

Mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing, and you need to maintain both in order to stay fit and healthy.

If you work in the police service, it's especially important for you to look after your mental wellbeing.

Our research shows:

  • 91% of police have experienced stress and poor mental health at work.
  • Emergency services personnel are more likely to experience a mental health problem than the general workforce, but you are less likely to take time of work as a result.
  • You work hard to prevent mental health problems affecting your performance at work, but this can come at a large personal cost, impacting relationships and physical health.

What can affect my mental wellbeing?

We all have times when we have low mental wellbeing – when we feel sad or stressed, or find it difficult to cope.

Your mental wellbeing can be affected by work-related factors like:

  • repeated exposure to traumatic events
  • workload pressures
  • long working hours
  • lone working
  • dealing with people who may be physically or verbally abusive

Obviously everybody experiences stress and anxiety; but as a police officer, you're used to dealing with the worst situation day in and day out, things that probably other people wouldn't experience in a lifetime.

Your mental wellbeing can also be affected by other things in your life, for example, if you:

  • suffer some sort of loss
  • experience loneliness 
  • have relationships problems
  • are worried about money

Sometimes, there is no clear reason why we experience a period of poor mental wellbeing.

Staying mentally well

It's important to look after your mental wellbeing on a day-to-day basis, and not just after experiencing big, traumatic events. Staying mentally well by building resilience can reduce your chances of developing mental health problems like depression, anxiety, or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This information was published in May 2015. We will revise it in 2018.

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