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A three-year mental health and wellbeing project to benefit its officers and staff has been secured by Police Scotland – Highland and Islands Division.

The funding, from Police Care UK’s 1in4 Fund, will enable the employment of a project officer to oversee the delivery of a workplace action plan across the division.

It comes as the division also launches a formal partnership with See Me, Scotland’s programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. The relationship acknowledges the division’s commitment to an ambitious programme of change, as well as talking about, and finding solutions to, challenges to ensure good practice in relation to mental health & wellbeing is sustained, and that necessary improvements to policies, processes and procedures are made.

Highland and Islands Division enrolled in the See Me in Work programme in 2018, and is the first organisation in the country to oversee the delivery of the action plan through a dedicated staffing resource. The project officer will implement the division’s proposals to deliver a range of outcomes and learning which it is hoped will be of benefit, locally and nationally, within Police Scotland, and of value to other employers.

Making the announcement on See Me’s Time To Talk Day (Thursday, 6 February, 2020), Inspector Judy Hill said: “The funding from Police Care UK gives us the opportunity to really tackle the issues around mental health stigma and discrimination, enabling us to lead the way in ensuring that, as an employer, our workplace is a mentally healthy one.

“We know that working as a police officer involves trauma as a core part of the job, but we also acknowledge that we must support our officers and staff to ensure they are mentally well and able to continue to provide a high level of service and response in our communities, both now and in the future.”

It is estimated that one in four people will experience mental illness at some point in their lifetime. It is acknowledged that pressures at work and at home, plus other social factors, can lead to unhealthy levels of stress, which can adversely impact a person’s mental health.

Interim director of See Me, Wendy Halliday, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Police Scotland - Highland and Islands Division to tackle stigma and discrimination with such a major employer.

“They are the first employer in Scotland to bring in a new member of staff to specifically work with us on delivering their action plan to tackle stigma.

“It’s great to see them getting involved in Time to Talk Day as well, showing that we can all talk about mental health.”

Photograph shows Inspector Judy Hill, Highland and Islands Division, and Wendy Halliday, Interim Director of See Me.