Mental health in policing: Treatment for officers in crisis

Mental health in policing is becoming a greater focus for UK police federations and forces. That focus is good news when you consider one in five police officers will suffer from PTSD or complex PTSD.

When AnonyMind representatives – passionate about individualised treatment for people suffering from mental ill-health – met Cheshire Police Federation’s Dan Lever, it led to a ground-breaking initiative offering tailored support to officers in crisis.

Mental health in policing – getting the right support

Dan Lever is Cheshire Police Federation’s equality and wellbeing lead. He recognises there is no one-size-fits-all answer to mental health. And through his partnership with AnonyMind, the Federation provides its police officers a critical level of treatment for complex mental health needs, including trauma and PTSD.

Speaking about why and how the partnership with AnonyMind began, Dan says: “For those police officers who had more complex mental ill health issues, we needed more intensive, bespoke treatment. We were reaching a point where the support for some wasn’t enough – it wasn’t making them any better. Neither mental health charities nor occupational health could help.

“I had a conversation with a police officer who required stage four treatment for mental health, which is really severe. The NHS told him there was a waiting list of at least two years. Well, that two years we may never get to that point. We were losing people along the way.”

Our team are experts in complex mental health challenges, and the personalised, intensive treatment that leads to recovery. And Dan was given AnonyMind’s details by a colleague in another force.

We worked with Dan to immediately get the officers who needed help into life-changing and life-saving intensive treatment with our psychologists. The service received its first referral in February 2022.

Mental health in policing – trauma and absenteeism

One in five police offers will suffer from PTSD or complex PTSD. And, they will also experience 400 to 600 traumatic incidents during their careers – compared to the usual four to six. So, police officers are subsequently at greater risk of suffering from trauma-related mental ill health.

Mental health in policing statistic
Mental health in policing

Additionally, a study of recorded absences from work of UK police employees suggests police employee absence due to psychological ill health, trauma, and stress nearly doubled in the past 10 years to an absence rate of 8.82%. The same study found that 39% of those who take a first leave of absence due to mental ill health go on to take further absences from work.

These are some of the reasons why Dan is placing education and prevention at the forefront of his work. He is encouraging people to ask for support sooner, to help prevent the higher risks and need for intensive treatment.

Meanwhile he is dealing with the fact that everyone’s mental health experiences are different. And some people won’t talk or seek support until their mental ill health reaches severe crisis. This means putting in the various levels of support needed is vital.

Mental health in policing – recovery

Dan believes that the treatment provided to his officers has been transformational, and life-saving. He says: “We review how our officers feel it’s going. They are over the moon with the treatment, the specialists they speak to, and the difference it’s making. In particular for one of the officers – I feared for his safety, his personal life – his marriage, and his job. I saw no way at that point [the start of his treatment] of him ever going back to policing. And neither did he. He couldn’t even talk about policing.

“And although we still have some way to go, we’re now in conversations about him going back to work. If that isn’t a testament to the treatment, then I don’t know what is. We’ve quite likely saved the career, potentially the life of a serving officer.”

Watch our full video interview with Dan Lever for greater insight into our work, and the officers we support:

We can support your people too!

Don’t wait. Contact us today to discuss how we can immediately start treating your people, to move them into recovery from crisis:


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