Peer support badges for Townsville police to help fight mental health stigma

July 20, 2023 9:06 am in by
Image/MyPolice Townsville District Officer Chief Superintendent Chris Hodgman presents the first badges.

More than 50 officers in the Townsville Police District will receive peer support badges, for being there for colleagues in times of need.

The initiative aims to reduce the stigma of mental health issues and normalise seeking help.

Townsville District Officer Chief Superintendent Chris Hodgman presented Peer Support Officers (PSO) with the first badges last week at Mundingburra Police Station.

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“Townsville is lucky enough to have 54 PSOs who are there for their colleagues in times of need,” he says.

“PSOs use existing workplace relationships to provide early intervention, from empathic listening to Psychological First Aid (PFA).

“We know it is easier to talk to a friend or colleague at work who understands the unique challenges and trauma associated with policing, making Peer Support Officers such an important role.

“PSOs are vital in promoting and normalising seeking help and reducing the stigma of mental health issues.”

QPS Senior Psychologist Pauline Trewin says PSOs play an integral part in the health and wellbeing of police officers and staff members.

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“Research shows that frontline police members across the world are more likely to seek support from their peers than from health professionals.

“This ‘blue on blue’ approach proactively maintains employee wellbeing by volunteering their time to support their peers who are exposed to critical incidents and potentially traumatic events in the workplace.

“These badges will increase visibility, promote the role and start important conversations about mental health support.”

Sergeant Sean Wilson became a Peer Support Officer many years ago to support frontline officers who regularly experienced trauma attending jobs and says officers respond differently to trauma.

“I found it an area where I could make an impact and hopefully contribute to their positive mental health and wellbeing,” he says.

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“Trauma can also affect people’s relationships when they go home and carry that baggage with them.

“The new badges are an initiative to recognise the work we’ve done over the years and to let other staff know who we are.

“Wearing the badge may create a bit of a conversation as well.”