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More than 165,000 work days have been lost in Police Scotland due to mental health issues, new figures show.
Statistics released after a freedom of information request show 166,580 days were lost since 2019-20 as a result of “psychological disorders”.
The category takes into account staff or officers who are off with alcohol problems, anxiety, bereavement reaction, bipolar, debility, dementia, depression, insomnia, other psychological disorders, post-natal depression, post-traumatic stress, schizophrenia and stress, according to Police Scotland.
In 2020-21, 44,312 work days were lost among police officers, up from 43,413 the year before.
Some 23,935 police staff days were also lost due to mental health problems in 2020-21, rising from 20,384.
Between April 1 and September 30 this year, 22,163 days for officers and 12,373 days for staff were lost – however a change in recording methods this year means these figures should not be compared with previous years.
Scottish Lib Dem justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: “These figures show the brutal toll that mental ill health is taking on the national force. The mental health of officers and staff can no longer be sidelined.
“Police officers are often the ones to assist us in our moments of greatest need, yet the Scottish Government has failed to provide officers and staff with the support they need to manage their own mental health.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see many more mental health staff working alongside the police, mental health first-aiders supporting colleagues and annual staff surveys to identify issues quickly and provide support wherever it is needed.”
Deputy chief constable Fiona Taylor described police work as a “relentless but rewarding” job.
“Our people are highly motivated by public service and they have worked relentlessly to improve the lives of people and communities in Scotland every day, against a backdrop of increasing demand,” she added.
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“The safety and wellbeing of officers and staff and their families is a priority for Police Scotland and we have a range of mechanisms to support our people, including an employee assistance programme, a wellbeing champion network, post-trauma assessment and mental fitness training.
“We have a duty and an opportunity to build and maintain a service and culture founded on our values to improve the experiences of our people.
“Police Scotland is determined to continue to drive improvements to support our people and provide them with the tools they need to do their job.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it “greatly values” police officers and staff.
“We continue to support initiatives being undertaken by the Chief Constable to ensure police officers and staff are physically and mentally healthy at a time when Scotland needs its frontline emergency workers more than ever,” he said.
“Officers and staff can access a range of services to care for their physical and mental health through Police Scotland’s Your Wellbeing Matters programme which includes occupational health, employee assistance and the trauma risk management programme.”