Belfast Telegraph

Grenfell Tower: 999 heroes 'reluctant' to seek help for effects of trauma

By Jon Vale

Some 30 police officers and firefighters have contacted a charity to seek support for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the London Grenfell Tower fire plus terror attacks in the city and at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester earlier this year.

The figure from the charity PTSD999 comes amid warnings from the charity and front line staff about poor treatment of the illness and other mental health issues in the emergency services that have left staff reluctant to seek help.

London Fire Brigade commisioner Dany Cotton said after the Grenfell disaster that the welfare of staff was paramount, while the Metropolitan Police said it had specialist programmes in place after recent high profile events.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation, and Sean Starbuck, lead officer for mental health with the Fire Brigades Union, said care was improving but raised concerns over cuts to resources.

Rank-and-file officers spoke out about a culture of mistrust with managers in both the police and fire service, with staff reluctant to come forward for help due to fears over the impact such a move could have on their jobs.

Simon Durance, co-founder of PTSD999, said: "Evidence from blue light services staff and post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers suggests the needs for staff suffering from PTSD are not being met."

He added: "Many charities just signpost and actually don't deliver any treatment or diagnosis, and too much money is wasted talking about doing stuff and none spent on doing anything like treatment."

However, one police officer, who supervises staff who attended Grenfell Tower and recent incidents called the Met's policies "a lot of smoke and mirrors, when the job (the police) isn't actually doing very much at all".

Many officers were at breaking point with the workload, he said, while staff did not trust management enough to seek help.

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