When is it ok to seek support?
It's common to feel unsure about seeking support for your mental wellbeing, and to feel like you ought to wait until you can't handle things on your own. But it's always ok for you to seek help – even if you're not sure if you are experiencing a specific mental health problem. And it's always better to seek help earlier on, rather than letting things build up, which could lead to something more serious.
Some reasons why you might choose to seek help could include:
- finding it difficult to cope with your thoughts and feelings
- thoughts and feelings having an impact on your day-to-day life
- wanting to find out about available support
What support is available?
You may find that, despite your best efforts, you are unable to maintain your mental wellbeing on your own. In this case, you might want to seek professional help to address whatever is affecting your mental wellbeing.
Mind Blue Light Infoline
We have a dedicated Blue Light Infoline for emergency service staff, volunteers and their families. Our team can look for details of help and support in your own area.
Find out if your Force has any specialist support services on offer, for example:
- occupational health unit
- Employee Assistance Support helpline
- multi-faith chaplaincy
- peer support
There are a number of specialist organisations that support the wellbeing of police officers:
If there is a particular situation that is affecting your mental wellbeing, the best thing to do is to seek specialist practical help to resolve the problem. Having someone professional who is familiar with your type of situation can see it objectively and usually get to the root of the problem more quickly. For example, if:
- someone close to you has died and you are struggling to cope, you may want to talk to a bereavement counsellor, or contact an organisation like Cruse Bereavement Care
- you have legal, money or housing problems that are causing you stress or anxiety, you may find it useful to talk to your local Citizens Advice
See Useful contacts for organisations that may be able to help.
Peer support means talking to people who have been through similar experiences; for example, in a support group, online forum or website. Some Forces have peer support groups set up specifically for this.
It can be a useful source of support and understanding. However, if you’re accessing peer support online, think carefully about what information you want to share – you don’t always know who you’re talking to. You can get details of peer support groups that might be relevant to you by contacting the Mind Blue Light Infoline.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. It has been shown to help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, it is easier to manage them. Be Mindful has more information and details of local classes around the UK.
If you are facing problems that are affecting your mental wellbeing, and you can’t resolve these yourself, you may find a talking treatment helpful.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that aims to identify connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and to help you develop practical skills to manage them. It has been shown to be particularly effective for low self-esteem and anxiety-based conditions.
If your problems stem from early life experiences you might find that other talking therapies, such as person-centred therapy, psychodynamic therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), can help you address these experiences more thoroughly. (See Making sense of talking treatments.)
If you want to try a talking treatment, your GP can provide information and refer you to a local service. However, waiting lists for talking treatments on the NHS can be long, so you may prefer to seek therapy or counselling privately. Private therapists will charge a fee, but some offer a reduced rate for people on a limited income. See BACP, BABCP and UKCP for a list of accredited private therapists.
If you are unable to resolve any difficulties you are having yourself, and your feelings develop into a mental health problem, such as PTSD, anxiety or depression, you may be offered prescription medication by your GP. These drugs don't cure mental health problems, but aim to ease the most distressing symptoms.
Many people find these drugs helpful, as they can lessen symptoms and allow them to continue with their normal activities. However, drugs can have side effects that may make some people feel worse rather than better. Your GP should talk you through the potential advantages and disadvantages of taking any psychiatric medication and discuss possible alternative treatments. You can also find information about the effects of psychiatric drugs in our Treatments section.
This information was published in May 2015. We will revise it in 2018.