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Blog: PTSD and police wellbeing

Published 25 Jul 2022
Written by
PC Sean Burridge
Surrey and Sussex Police
Reading time
2 mins

In this blog, PC Sean Burridge talks about how his own experience of suffering PTSD led to the role of Wellbeing Consultant for Surrey and Sussex Police and winning this year's Inspiration in Policing Award at the National Police Bravery Awards.

Surrey and Sussex Police PC Sean Burridge receiving the Inspiration in Policing award
Surrey and Sussex Police PC Sean Burridge receiving the Inspiration in Policing award

 

On the 15th May 2015 my career as a frontline police officer ended.

I was involved in a high-speed vehicle collision which led to physical injuries and then a diagnosis of PTSD.

I went through a dark period which, believe it or not, I now feel I was mourning the loss of my operational status. Because of what had happened, I guess no longer being able to carry out frontline duties was inevitable, but I was lucky to be alive.

I found myself going over what had happened to me, the treatment I had received and the experience I had at work after the collision.

Based on what I had experienced, I wanted to make a difference and change the way things were done to make things better for anyone else unfortunate enough to face these challenges.  

I initially approached Insp Michael Brown (Mental Health Cop on Twitter) and took his advice which was to be persistent with my mission within the organisation.

I began to do regular presentations on my experience of suffering PTSD and was invited to give this presentation on CPD days in both forces.

I asked for meetings with the Chief Constable and Head of People services on a fairly regular basis to describe where I felt there could be improvements made to the system. Eventually I was offered the role of Wellbeing Consultant for Surrey Police and Sussex Police.

This role has given me the spark for looking after all staff in policing. I have managed to make a difference in all corners of the organisation in some capacity. Working closely with fantastic organisations such as Police Care UK, Police Mutual and of course Oscar Kilo.

I have set up the wellbeing dog service in Surrey with the assistance of Oscar Kilo, introduced Suicide First Aiders across Surrey and Sussex with the assistance of Grassroots in Brighton, and I’ve recruited more Mental Health First Aiders with the assistance of colleagues in our Training School.

It has been an incredible journey, and one that I find massively rewarding as I am keeping the heroes on the frontline - a role I can no longer do. There is, of course more to do.

To be given the “Inspiration in Policing award” at the National Police Bravery Awards was a huge honour. I do not do this job for thanks, but to have been recognised for what I do is amazing and I wish to thank Steve Hartshorn at the Police Federation for the recognition.

All of this is also with thanks to my Team, Kevin Coombes and Frances Novillo who make the wellbeing team the success that it is.