Do you manage women? Are you managed by a woman? Do you live with a woman? Related to a woman? Friends with a woman? Are you a women experiencing the menopause? A woman who will experience the menopause? (Is there anyone we haven’t included?!) Then menopause is or will affect you at some point. To mark World Menopause Day 2020, West Mercia Police ran a series of week-long events to promote conversation, awareness and support around menopause for their staff.
Having menopausal symptoms can really affect a woman’s life, sometimes in a detrimental way. Not enough men and women talk about menopause – there is still much uncertainty about what the menopause means and how it can be managed, and many women don’t understand what they are experiencing when going through menopause themselves. So how can we expect others to understand and support women?
Sickness levels amongst women aged 45-55 is high, and therefore works needs to be done to support women within this age bracket to feel well enough to remain at work. It can’t be a coincidence that women in this age bracket will probably be experiencing menopause-related symptoms whilst potentially managing the care of children and parents and possibly having reached a managerial level in their career.
Throughout the week, the force promoted the use of the ‘Balance’ App, launched their local Menopause Assessment document, re-wrote all of the menopause pages on the intranet, and held a UK-wide police virtual conference called ‘Let’s Talk Menopause’.
The ‘Let’s Talk Menopause’ event was held on 21st October 2020, and was hosted by Deputy Chief Constable Julian Moss and Inspector Liz Warner of West Mercia Police.
The webinar was opened by DCC Moss and hosted a range of speakers including; police colleagues sharing their own experience of the menopause, West Mercia Police’s Clinical Nurse and Welfare Officer talking about the physical and psychological steps within menopause, an officer safety trainer talking about fitness and diet, a representative from the Police Federation and a colleague who introduced West Mercia Police’s new Menopause Assessment Document.
We were also incredibly lucky to have Dr Verity Biggs attending the event and she covered many topics relating to the menopause, from the coil to hormones, from sleep issues to HRT.
The event was attended by 260 attendees from around the UK (male and female) on Zoom, 150 minutes of talking menopause and many, many questions and answers, laughter, and tears.
Feedback we have had since the event is highly emotive and shows that men and women in policing did not fully understand the menopause.
Women report now going to their GP feeling empowered with the knowledge to ask for specific treatment, report not feeling alone or like they’re ‘going mad’, feeling like the menopause is something they’re allowed to talk about at home and at work.
The webinar certainly has started a conversation around menopause not only within West Mercia Police, but within the other forces that attended.
Attendees enjoyed the refreshing experiencing of open talk about a topic that has been hushed due to embarrassment for so long. The professional advice allowed women to feel empowered to take control over their own menopause experiences, and men and women felt able to approach partners and staff members to discuss the menopause.
But this is just the beginning – we have started the conversation, we just need to make sure we can only get louder.