Father, daughter tackle trail to highlight mental health
Newman’s top cop and his daughter are setting out on a mission to complete the Kokoda Trail to reduce the stigma of mental health in the police and emergency services.
Newman police officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Mark Fleskens said he had been exposed to people within emergency services who had to deal with very traumatic situations.
The pair will complete the track over eight days as part of a team from Blue HOPE, an organisation tailored to serving and former police officers to provide a support network for officers and their families.
“We will be representing WA Police and highlighting the issues of mental health to ensure people will always have a friend to talk to,” he said.
Sen. Sgt Fleskens said he was very proud when his daughter Erin, a constable at Kalgoorlie Police Station, first asked him to join her on the quest. The pair said they hoped to spread the message to ensure a life was never lost to the black dog again.
“Both Erin and I have been touched by mental issues through friends within WA Police, and unfortunately some of those have taken their own lives,” he said.
Sen. Sgt Fleskens said there many factors that precluded people from wanting to talk about their mental health.
“Some people are private and don’t wish to burden family and friends,” he said.
“Others are concerned how it will affect their career but ... the hardest step is the first step and that is to share the burden they are carrying.
He said WA Police had services available including a peer support network and councillors at the various health and safety branches.
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