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Going head to head for police mental health

The Head to Head Fundraising Walk supports former Victoria Police officers living with mental health issues.

Very few job descriptions include putting oneself in harm’s way to protect others. But that’s exactly what the men and women of the Victorian Police Force do on a daily basis.

Though we can often appreciate the physical risks they encounter, the mental trauma they endure may be harder to diagnose, let alone acknowledge.

That’s why, over three weeks in October this year, the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police (CCP), Graham Ashton, and Secretary of The Police Association of Victoria (TPAV), Mr Wayne Gatt, will be walking 1,000 km, from opposite ends of Victoria to raise awareness and much-needed funds for former Victoria Police officers who are suffering from mental health issues.

CCP Ashton says, “It is vitally important to provide support to our officers and I wanted to do something that acknowledges our former police, and the mental health battles that they can experience.”

Many police officers struggle with mental health issues in some way or another during, or after their career. For some, it may be when they attend critical incidents, like motor vehicle accidents, experiencing traumatic moments multiple times a day, only for it to recur constantly throughout the weeks, months, or years.

For others, the cumulative effect of traumatic scenes after traumatic scenes can become too much. Factor in the daily stresses of a demanding job, not to mention personal issues outside of work, mental health issues can surface in the form of anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress.

Victoria Police already has a range of mental health programs in place for current police officers, but more can be done for those who have left the force. That’s where programs like The Head to Head Fundraising Walk come in.

TPAV Secretary Wayne Gatt says, “This walk represents an acknowledgement of the struggle that many of our members have and do face every day, and our commitment to help them, however we can, to emerge from the dark times.”

Head to Head is run by a volunteer group of around 60 former police officers who in turn support over 700 police officers who are experiencing a range of mental health issues.

To find out more or donate, visit headtoheadwalk.org.au 

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