The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) is supporting this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

The Federation will be providing advice and tips from experts on everything from mental health first aid to diet and sleep through the awareness week, which is run by the Mental Health Foundation and runs until Sunday (24 May).

“It is important to raise awareness around mental health, to encourage people to speak about their mental wellbeing and to show that there is a wide range of support available to people,” says Liz Groom, chair of Cambridgeshire Police Federation.

“Last year, I must admit I struggled. I felt mentally exhausted, I was forgetting things, having trouble sleeping at night and then wanting to nap in the day. In the end I had a bit of a meltdown and took three weeks off work; I knew I just needed to rest.

“But while the rest helped, the best thing I did during that time was call Flint House, the police rehabilitation centre in Oxfordshire, and a few months later I attended their two-week mental health support programme which turned out to be a game-changer, giving me the tools to take care of my own mental wellbeing.

“I had initially struggled in accepting that I needed a rest or support but I am so pleased that I got the help I needed and I would urge anyone who is experiencing stress, anxiety, difficulty switching off or just not feeling themselves, perhaps crying more often or losing their temper to consider seeking help. It is nothing to be embarrassed about and there are so many people and organisations out there who can offer support.”

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness.

Belinda Goodwin, the Police Federation’s national wellbeing lead, has written a blog to mark the week in which she highlights the fact that everyone is currently under a greater mental strain than usual due to the pandemic.

“More than four in five Britons are worried about the effect that coronavirus is having on their life, more than half say it has caused high levels of anxiety and has affected their wellbeing,” she explains.

“Now, these levels of anxiety are normal and, according to several professionals, may even be a healthy sign that we are thinking about, connecting with and caring for others more.

“But they don’t account for the very real dangers being faced by colleagues on the front-line, who are constantly at risk of being exposed to the infection, and who are being coughed and spat at on the streets by people claiming to have the virus.”

Find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week.

Get help and support during the coronavirus outbreak.