Policing Mental Health - Peter Knight / by Richard Bentley

Pete Knight is a retired British Transport Police officer having served 31 years. Since retiring he has cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats and walked the length of Hadrian's Wall. Plenty of time to reflect.

As a recently retired Police Officer I have had plenty of time to reflect on my 30 years of service. In particular I have realised how retirement has been something of a release from the stresses of police work and how important mental wellbeing was to me and my colleagues. This wasn't always obvious to me and upon reflection numerous beers after work are not always the best remedy!

Shortly after retirement myself and two fellow police-retirees cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats. I realised how fortunate we were to have the time to take on this challenge (which we finished eventually) and that we were physically and mentally capable of doing so. As we spent many hours reminiscing I reflected that the Police Service had been very slow to acknowledge the importance of good mental health.

Later this year I plan to trek up Kilimanjaro with my daughter, which I expect to be another challenge (the mountain not my daughter!). Once again I am thankful to be able to do so particularly as a former friend and colleague recovers from a work related mental health illness.

So if I could talk to my younger self the message would be that there is no weakness in mental health problems and that when it comes to life's worries, we are all essentially in the same boat. Self awareness and good support networks are key to a balanced mental health and the sooner young people are made aware of this, the sooner change come about. It might keep their bar bills down as well!