Gwent Police Federation wellbeing officer Danni Threader has described how counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder inspired her to take up her new role helping colleagues deal with the pressures of the job.
Danni joined the Force 11 years ago and was a frontline officer and Federation rep before becoming one of the country’s few full-time wellbeing officers in April.
Her position was made permanent by Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman as part of a big wellbeing drive across the Force.
Writing in a blog on the national Police Federation website, Danni acknowledged the massive differences between her new and former roles with the Force.
She said: “I went from dealing with shoplifters to arranging care for people and reading up on sick and injury legislation to assist colleagues.
“It’s a whole different world – but I’m so proud to be here.”
Danni said her own experiences meant she knew the importance of wellbeing care for police officers.
She said: “I was diagnosed with PTSD myself in 2019. I’d seen the most horrible side of human life: baby deaths, murders, rape. It all came to a head when I was giving CPR to a man and he died in my arms.
“Until then, like most coppers do, I’d been putting things in a box. But after the incident, it was like the box overflowed. I just wasn’t myself anymore.
“I realised everything I’d been through had had a huge effect on me and I went through counselling and therapy to help process it. This inspired me to take that experience and use it to show other officers they aren’t alone in what they’re going through.”
Danni said part of her role as a wellbeing officer is to listen, show she understands and point members towards the help they may need.
Her regular duties also include checking on colleagues who are on long-term sick or injury leave so the Police Federation can help them back into the workplace.
She also offers support to officers who are under investigation.
Danni said: “At its most basic, my job is about getting to know people and meeting them where they’re at. Wellbeing only works if and when it takes individuals into account.
“What’s right for me won’t be right for you – there are so many different factors to effective wellbeing care, from mental health to resourcing, to interpreting regulations.
“I’m hoping some new ways of doing things during the pandemic, such as working from home, will continue or be adapted for those who’ve found it useful.
“Another project I’m looking at is the possibility of following South Wales’ lead and providing counselling for Fed reps.
“I joined policing to help my community. Now, I can also help colleagues. I’m so lucky to have this position, and I’m really hoping other forces see what we’re doing here in Gwent and there’ll soon be many more wellbeing officers like me in England and Wales.”