The Police Dependants’ Trust has a long history of supporting Police Forces and their sports associations through our Wellbeing Fund which encourages local initiatives aimed at improving health and wellbeing of police officers and staff.
Following the publication of our research Injury on Duty, current police personnel (PDT & University of Surrey, 2016), we have been reviewing how we can increase the impact of our work and support more people. The PDT has decided to increase its focus on improving the mental health and wellbeing of those who have been injured at work, both physically and psychologically. From our research, 80% of officers and staff reported that they had experienced at least one physical or psychological injury and of those 42% had experienced a psychological injury or mental health issue due to work. Anxiety at 43% and depression at 37% were the top two mental health issues, with a further 20% also saying they had experienced a sleeping disorder.
Review of our Wellbeing Grants scheme, which provides grants of up to £3,000 for one-off projects, indicates a significant proportion of these grants have simply been made to upgrade and modernise gyms and equipment. To help align our Wellbeing Grant activity with the research findings we have undertaken a desktop literature review of published research to inform our future funding for sports associations and other exercise-based projects.
The people we want to reach with funded projects
From our research, we will be looking for projects that target the following groups:
- To better support those returning/ recently returned to work due to a physical injury
- To increase awareness of health and wellbeing amongst officers and staff
- To provide practical and emotional support to those suffering from mental ill-health
- To provide practical and emotional support to specific high-risk roles/groups
Guidance on activity after a physical injury varies depending on the nature and severity of the injury itself, however advice from the NHS is similar in that it’s important to start with gentle exercise and stretching to help regain full function, flexibility and strength before carrying on activities as before. Where the injury is taking longer than expected to help, a referral to physiotherapy is recommended.
The role activity has on mental health and wellbeing is only relatively recently being understood however there is research that suggests that activity can have a positive effect on improving wellbeing and supporting those with specific mental health illnesses. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2014) found that those who had done moderate intensity sport within the last four weeks, on average ‘reported happiness scores 0.8% greater than those who had not.’
The recent research by Cardiff Metropolitan University (2018) on health and wellbeing within South Wales Police highlights the impact of activity, stating that ‘89.25% of employees met the National Health Service Physical activity guidelines [and those that did were] significantly more engaged at work and had significantly better general health that those who did not.’
The Mental Health Foundation (2013) conducted an extensive literature review and compiled their recommendations for how different types of activity can support someone’s mental health and wellbeing. It’s important to note at this stage that physical activity should not be seen as a ‘chore’ or something that needs fixing but should be something ‘we do to enhance wellbeing’ (Mental Health Foundation, 2013).
Priority will be given to new and unique projects; funding for repeat or tried-tested projects will only be agreed subject to funding availability.