The Mind Awards – We Won!!

Right!! – I recently started drafting a post, to be ready for next week – the one year anniversary of the blog.  Given unexpected developments on the South Bank in London last night, I’m going to bring it forward slightly and combine it with a celebration of the blog’s first major, national recognition at last night’s Mind Awards, hosted by Stephen Fry.

Good parties have music, so you can open these three links in another tab or window to listen as you read – all songs that various people have told me they link to mental health:


Last night was, quite unexpectedly, one of the best nights of my life.  There are only a few things that have come close to the feeling I had when my name was read as the winner of the Mark Hanson Award.  My mouth went dry, my palms were sweating and my head began to melt as I wondered what on earth I was going to say to a massive audience at the British Film Institute at the South Bank.  Normally, I can bang on at zero notice for hours about policing and mental health – I was barely able to hold the microphone and say thank you!  The 2011 riots in Birmingham were less intimidating and overwhelming. << Yes, really!

I met so many people who were informed and inspired by the blog, as well as people who USE it to make the world a better place, that I can away confident that I have not yet understand the extent of its reach and of its application.  There were some really senior people shouting when my name was announced – I have to mention Paul Jenkins from Rethink who was effusive! – and to receive the award from Mark’s wife, Clare Francis (pictured with me, above), added to the emotion of it all for me.  Whilst my head was still spinning she was generous enough to seek me out and offer to help raise the profile of this blog yet further and she’s been an inspirational fund-raiser for Mind since Mark’s death just last year.  Max Pemberton was one of this year’s Mind judges who was influential in lobbying for my work and read the short-listed nominees for this category.

Stephen Fry, president of Mind, said various things last night as he hosted the event that struck me – he outlined how people still need to be challenged about their assumptions.  For example, in questioning why people who have achieved celebrity or even just have a comfortable and secure lifestyle would suffer from depression or anxiety? He pointed out, that to ask a rich person who never as to work again why they have mental illness when they can have no worries, is like asking a painter why they have cancer.  “Mental health disorders” as he referred to conditions or illnesses, are things can afflict any of us.  And actually, whether this comes around because of biology, psychology or sociology is almost besides the point: human experience is real.



Wind back to the end of November 2011 and I’d been tweeting mental health content for a few months when it was suggested that I should write a blog … maybe providing me with the ability to say more or to say it in more detail, etc., etc..  I wasn’t that sure.  I’d read a few police blogs, often written anonymously, and wondered whether it might come across as an attempt to be subversive as the others were?  Writing about things where it may well be encouraging police officers to breach their local protocols because of a view – merely my own – that some of those protocols broke laws, literally.  I still haven’t read very many joint MH protocols that actually get it right.

Actually, this is a blog that tries to be about rights, autonomy and respect for the rule of law.

So I started writing with no idea how it may develop, with no idea whether anyone would read it or whether it may prove useful to anyone at all.  First and foremost, I had police officers in mind.  By writing about my own work, I hoped I may save some colleagues hours of research and reading, summarising what they needed to know into consumable bits.  I hoped to do this for both operational situations and for officers whose MH role was to go into partnership meetings with health and social care professionals.  However, it seems the appeal is broader.

Highlights have included a few different posts that I want to remind you of:

  • Twitter and Live Suicide Threats << Picked up by national media, where someone threatening to kill themselves was found and supported despite an absence of information about their identity or whereabouts.
  • Who’s Protecting the Protectors? << Published only a few days before PC David Rathband took his own life.  It was republished the day after his death and was read more in one day than any other post I have written.
  • What We Need the NHS To Know << circulated in an NHS e-bulletin some months after it was written and has been accessed dozens of time most days since.
  • The Senior Officers’ Checklist << circulated by the Police Superintendents’ Association to all 1,400 senior operational leaders in the UK police service.

It is obvious that a few of the references pieces I’ve written have proved very useful:


What I want to focus upon in Year Two is making the thing more usable and getting into other media by which the get the message across – vlogs and apps.  I  still intend to use the blog and twitter to host and circulate the materials, but to make them accessible in other ways.  That way, I can build up a pod of training materials which I hope to make usable across criminal justice and health / social care.  I am absolutely determined that during 2013 there will be a free “MentalHealthCop App” for iPhones or SmartPhones.  Combining the blog, Twitter and some important operational guidance for cops.  I just need to work out the money and there are some plans a foot for that.

Finally, a complaint!! >> Sometimes, I get a quick idea for a blog and I take 20 mins to bash it out without much effort and it does really, really well.  A few of them are mentioned, above.  Other times, I have had blogs in preparation for days or weeks, conducting loads of research to get them right and they crash!  Here are a few of those I have really enjoyed writing and researching which get right into the heart of what I’m trying to argue for … that I wish had been read a touch more!

Thanks for ALL your support, your interest and your use of this material.  I wouldn’t still be writing it, if no-one was reading it, so I’m grateful to you all.

The Mental Health Cop blog

Badgewon the ConnectedCOPS ‘Top Cop’ Award for leveraging social media in policing.
won the Digital Media Award from the UK’s leading mental health charity, Mind
– won a World of Mentalists #TWIMAward for the best in mental health blogs

ccawards2013 was highlighted by the Independent Commission on Policing & Mental Health
– was referenced in the UK Parliamentary debate on Policing & Mental Health
was commended by the Home Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament.


25 thoughts on “The Mind Awards – We Won!!

  1. Fabulous. I don’t always agree with you, but you always make me think, and you invariably get to the heart of the matter. It’s a great achievement and you should be bursting with well-earned pride.

  2. Well done, as a custody sgt I find your blog interesting and insightful. It’s good to have some good news about policing for a change.

  3. Thank God – have a properly worthy winner this year 😉

    Seriously though. You really deserved this. I know I never comment but I frequently read, and you provide so much useful and accessible information, in a niche rarely recognised elsewhere. Thank you.

    Many congrats 😀

    Take care


    1. Means a lot – I know the competition this year, so congrats from last year’s is warm praise. Thanks a lot!

      Actually, if last night taught me anything at all, it’s that LOADS of people are reading, taking it in and USING it to make the world a better place but not commenting. I usually only follow people on Twitter who engage with me on there and there were people who introduced themselves by their Twitter name and I vaguely recognised it because they follow but don’t interact.

      It’s brilliant to put faces, emotions and reactions to names because I don’t know about you, but sitting in my house as I currently am, there’s no immediate human reaction, so you build up a sense of doing it in an emotional vacuum … maybe that’s just me?!!

      Thanks again! 🙂

  4. Many congratulations Michael i can only echo the comments on here you have made me think about my practice and my interaction with the police more deeply which can only be a good thing and given good backing to my case when discussing points with the police and colleagues. Hope it continues and yes after meeting a few tweeps in real life this year think it does make a difference when you know the voice and face behind the avatar

    1. I’m a front line response officer and as I’m sure you’re aware meet MH issues on a daily basis. Your blog has both opened my eyes and provided an invaluable resource during various incidents. Fully deserved award and keep up the good work.

  5. I realised in your first few blogs were going somewhere! This is exactly what was needed to help change a society for the better by recognising and treating mental health when it occurs without prejudice.
    My Dad was a Policeman for 30 yrs and he still believes mental health is at the fault of the recipient. I find it incredibly hard to believe that in all those years his attitude did not change.
    I hope with all my heart that your attitude filters through the force as a whole.
    I said to you a year ago I felt mental health was on the verge of change for the better. You disagreed. However you don’t seem to realise that it is you who is the vehicle within the force.

    May the Force be with you my friend xx

  6. Well done , having gone from firefighter to having a full on breakdown and diagnosis of Borderline PD and PTSD . I had a brush with the law while coming of meds and the confusion and franticness that accompanies that… it wasnt nice being locked up for 8 hours when all I wanted was help and the hospital … but there was one kind soul in the station who spoke to me in a nice way treated me with dignity and even then gave me a lift home … The inspector was also very kind when he found out that i had been in the boxing day tsunami … I so think when people find out why you may have a MH problem it may change there perception of you rather than just thinking we are all just odd balls once again well done

  7. All I can say is well done, It’s so deserved that you won for the hard work you do! You’re blog is very good and I use it all the time for my own personal develpment but I also use it as a part of the team meeting etc! I would like to thank you for all your hard work and once again well done!

  8. Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was
    super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly
    enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any tips and hints for first-time blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

    1. Thanks for the comment, much appreciated – sorry your first didn’t appear … can only assume it got caught in spam filters, which capture much that comes through, including the odd genuine comment.

      Tips for new bloggers –

      1. Have a clear message and audience in mind – allows you to target your stuff as relevant to someone that you’re trying to influence to read it.
      2. Use social media to put your stuff about: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and Google+ are all good for different reasons – you could even use something like HootSuite so you can post new blogs to all those media simultaneously in one act. The marketting of your blog is as important as the content.

      I think those are the main two things, because that applies to most blog materials / contents, no matter what you’re writing about.

      Good luck with it and send me a link if you’d like me to read it over!

  9. You could certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write.
    The arena hopes for more passionate writers such as
    you who are not afraid to mention how they believe.
    At all times follow your heart.

  10. Wonderful site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics
    discussed here? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get comments from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Many thanks!

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