I’ve seen something traumatic in my police role

Sadly, in the police, you’re much more likely to experience something traumatic in your role than the general population. While you might feel like you’re able to cope in the moment, these situations can have a long-lasting effect on your mental wellbeing. Healthy processing of such incidents is essential in policing to reset your stress response, to file events as past, and to move on to the next job.

“After a few days, I realised that this event had affected me.”

Tim Tittensor Police officer working in Essex

There are things you can do in the first 24 hours, the next 48, and beyond, to help you recognise the impact of what happened to you and try to ensure the experience does not cause you long-term trauma.

You might also find it useful to talk to someone who wasn’t involved in the situation. They might be able to talk you through what happened, and help you understand it (and your feelings about it) better. There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it.

You’ll find some starting points below.

Self-support techniques after a major incident

In policing, it is common to experience a series of challenging incidents, one after the other. Healthy processing of such incidents is essential  to reset the stress response, to file events as past, and to move on to the next job.

This page from Police Care UK offers tips and coping strategies which may be helpful for different people at different times for different types of incidents.

  • 15 min read
  • UK-wide

Coping with what you’ve experienced during coronavirus: police

This guide from Mind is designed help you make sense of the things you’ve seen and experienced as an emergency responder in the police service during coronavirus.

It explores some the feelings you may be going through, experiences other responders have shared, tools and strategies to cope with difficult feelings and experiences, and how to deal with any long-lasting impacts to your working and personal life.

It’s available in both English and Welsh.

  • 20 min read
  • UK-wide

Understanding my response to trauma and stress: police

Your role might well involve regular and frequent exposure to the kinds of events and situations that most people never encounter.

This page explains what happens to us – biologically, psychologically and socially – when we’re exposed to potentially traumatic events. It includes a video example from a first responder who attended a fatal avalanche.

It was produced for volunteer responders in Scotland, but the information is applicable to any emergency personnel.

  • 10 min read
  • Scotland

How to manage stress and anxiety: Police

91% of police staff and volunteers have experienced stress and poor mental health. This booklet has practical tips and suggestions to help.

  • 15 min read
  • UK-wide

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem you may develop after traumatic events. You’re not alone. These pages explain causes, symptoms and self-care tips.

  • 10 min read
  • UK-wide

Looking for more information, ideas and suggestions?