Officers urged to access support through Backup Buddy app

Gwent Police Federation members are being encouraged to download the Backup Buddy for 24-hour access to a wide range support services.

The app has been tailor-made to reflect the specific needs and requirements of Gwent Police officers and staff and is being seen as a key aspect of the Force’s wellbeing services.

Force wellbeing specialist Kelly Sturdy said: “Our Backup Buddy is available to all officers and staff across the Force and the idea is people can download the app free of charge and it is there really for support and advice whenever somebody needs it.

“Obviously policing isn’t nine to five although lots of support services are so this gives officers and staff the option to access support 24/7.

“There are two strands - support for yourself or support for others - and there are different challenges on the app. There are texts for wellbeing, there is support for after trauma incidents, there are mindfulness sessions and lists of useful contacts as well.”

Kelly said the Backup Buddy app covered a range of issues which could potentially affect officers and staff  such as anxiety, anger, depression, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and  self-harm.

It gives practical advice and support on how officers can maintain good mental health or spot warning signs and get help for themselves and others.

Kelly said the mental health and wellbeing of officers and staff was taken incredibly seriously by Gwent Police.

She said:  “At Gwent we are heavily invested in our staff and officers’ wellbeing. We have a dedicated team that provides wellbeing support to our officers, working closely with the Police Federation, and there is a huge focus on mental and emotional health.”

Gwent Police has a dedicated wellbing team

Kelly said people were becoming more open about their mental health and more willing to discuss the issues affecting them but said some still need encouragement.

“Breaking the stigma is absolutely key as is encouraging people to access the support when they need it. There is a certain stereotype of police officers being tough but we all need to look after our mental health as well as our physical health,” she said.

“If you were to turn up with your leg hanging off we would be the first to get you off to A & E and stitched up and we’d sort out the rehab and the physio that you needed.

“Police officers are increasingly putting their health at risk and witness some really terrible things but we are not superhuman and we need to look after our mental health as well as our physical health.”

The Backup Buddy app has recently extended its content to cover other areas from relationships to physical health to financial health as well as content relating to positive and supportive leadership and also covers topics such as bereavement, trauma, menopause, child wellbeing, physical exercise, diet and sleep.

Gwent Police officers and staff can download the app from the Backup Buddy website, Google Play or the App Store.