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World Mental Health Day: Officer opens up about PTSD treatment


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A CSO's account of his struggle with PTSD highlights the trauma police officers face in their daily duties.


World Mental Health Day

A Community Support Officer has described his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder as part of a day of action to raise awareness about mental health issues.

On World Mental Health Day (October 11) the Gwent CSO wrote anonymously about how the graphic aftermath of a gas explosion in Newport haunted him for years.

The CSO was among the first emergency responders on scene after hearing the explosion from Newport Central Police Station.

“The give-away was a large hole where the front window used to be and the burning debris strewn across Bridge Street. 

“Immediately the smell of gas filled my lungs and the sight of a male stood in the debris with his clothes and chunks of skin missing filled my mind. Suddenly I was climbing in through the hole, over the gas pipe and pulling this stranger to the site of the former window. Then along with a colleague we pulled him out and into an ambulance. It was probably less than a minute but would affect me for what is looking like years.”

Although it took several months for his problems to start, the CSO was plunged into a downward spiral that almost wrecked his personal and professional life.

“I think the biggest issue for me became the words that every Community Support Officer hears almost daily ‘You’re only a CSO.’  It doesn’t bother me when the public say this but it definitely had an effect when it was my own mind. My mind was telling me CSO’s don’t have issues like this. You don’t go to incidents that could possibly have an effect on your mental wellbeing. Your colleagues are going to think you’re an idiot.”

Eventually, he felt he had no choice but to explain why he was underperforming and confessed to his sergeant: “So sitting in front of my sergeant with my heart pounding and my mind screaming at me I blurted it out. I imagine I sounded like a blubbering idiot but I had done it. “

After being placed on an "extremely long waiting list" the CSO wrote revealed he will be starting treatment for PTSD tomorrow

“This is where the real work begins and this is where I will be getting my life back on track.

“My colleagues don’t laugh. I have the most supportive team around me. I am proud I acted. I will get better and I will get back to being me.

“My condition does not and will not define me and the rest of my life.”

View on Police Oracle

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It can be hard to open up about certain things, at times it can feel like a "who's experienced the worst competition". Trauma affects people differently, there are many factors which come into play, from support at home to colleagues and command too.

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I hope that more cops, PCSO's, gaolers, control room staff, front office staff and everyone else that deals with members of the public realise that it's ok not be ok. You are not alone. You will not be laughed at. You will be supported. Don't suffer in silence

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