New Strategy Will Help Victorian Police Ditch "Suck It Up" Approach To Mental Health

Time for change

New Strategy Will Help Victorian Police Ditch "Suck It Up" Approach To Mental Health

A new mental health strategy will encourage Victorian police to ditch the “suck it up” culture.

Three Victorian police officers took their lives last year and the chief commissioner  - leading to an independent mental health review. The review revealed reports of bad management, high workloads and a culture of repressing emotional problems.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton today launched a mental health strategy to change this culture.

"We intend to make sure that we don't continue to break people into the future as we have in the past, that's our main focus with this strategy," Mr Ashton told reporters on Monday.

"(We want to see) mental health conversations form a normal part of interacting with each other ... but we've still got a long way to go and a lot of training to deliver."

He said police are trained from day one to be the person who is always coping and in control, but more staff were reaching out for help since the review was released.

There has been a 60 per cent increase in reporting for mental health issues and the force has hired 12 support staff in the psychology unit to meet demand, Mr Ashton said.

Case workers will also help retired officers still experiencing mental health problems and a fund is available for ongoing support.

The police union said the strategy presents a new era for the force.

"Behind every depression, anxiety and PTSD crisis is a uniform and behind that uniform is a person," Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said.

Mr Ashton said there were more than 1000 calls to police welfare following the Bourke Street attack, including from parts of the force that would not have normally have reached out.

The full mental health strategy, based on the report's 32 recommendations, will be fully implemented by 2020, Mr Ashton said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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