I’m not a massive fan of Christmas, to be honest. Ever since I heard Mr WARREN do his infamous “Bah, Humbug” assembly at school when I was a teenager, I’ve had something resonating in my head. As well as activating anxieties around a general principle of mine – that if something takes longer to plan than it does to do, it is inherently unworthwhile – there is also all the cultural abuse that goes with it.
So when I was a PC and a sergeant, I always used to volunteer to work the main Christmas shifts so that people with kids could have the time off that they often wanted – and I was always grateful for the money! As a young sergeant I once worked a double shift on one Christmas Day and just watched the number of domestic abuse incidents unfold as the day wore on.
Now that I am “that dad” and married, it is always more difficult to square away. Whilst personally, I could still take it or leave it to a certain extent, it really is beyond ‘special’ to see my nearly 8yr old in his element with our family and I’ve cherished the last few years.
I had Christmas Day / Boxing Day off last year, but this year, it is my turn to work right through: ‘Nights’ on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day, and then ‘nights’ again into Boxing Day. These are always difficult shifts to do because it has never ceased to amaze me how many people will ruin their family’s Christmas through self-indulgent, usually alcohol related-behaviour – and often the volume of demand on emergency services is extremely high. All too often, it is only once the handcuffs are on and that it dawns on intoxicated people that they may have just ruined everything and it can very quickly all become the fault of the police for having arrested them in the first place.
Of course, Christmas can be difficult for lots of other reasons and the profile of crime and of incidents will change. Police forces often prepare for an up-turn in domestic abuse incidents; in alcohol related incidents and for an upturn in calls around mental health issues. For many people Christmas comes at a ‘cost’, in terms of their mental health and this can be manifested in suicide or self-harm incidents as well as in allegations of crime or abuse.
Mind reports that anxiety and depression can increase by up to a quarter or a third as people struggle with the financial impact of Christmas. In addition, there can sometimes be little or no access to day-to-day NHS mental health services as GPs and CMHTs reduce cover to a minimum or are not available at all. CrisisTeams will still be there, but as they operate different access criteria across England / Wales, this will be of less or no relevance in some areas. The mental health lifeline – I mean this literally – can be A&E and 999 emergency services.
999 services are there to do what they can and in an emergency are available to be contacted – that’s what we’re here for.
ACCESSING HELP AT CHRISTMAS
If you or a family member need to access help or support for mental health issues (or domestic abuse) over Christmas, there are a range of options, in addition to trying any normal NHS supports that you would have available.
- Telephone Helpline Numbers:
- The Samaritans 24/7 Helpline – 08457 909090
- 24/7 National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247
- Mens’ Advice Line – 0808 801 0327
I must leave it there because I still have to buy Mrs MentalHealthCop a final Christmas present, but I sincerely wish a Merry Christmas to all of you who read, use and support the blog. I’ve you weren’t reading it, I wouldn’t be writing it!
See you all in 2013 with some new ideas.
The Mental Health Cop blog
– won 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
– 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.