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#HumansofWMP: Sarah Cavendish, mental health lead

“I remember my childhood fondly, filled with lots of lovely memories of baking with my grandma. We had a very close extended family and we enjoyed spending time at each other’s houses.

“I grew up with aunty Suzanne, who had Down’s syndrome. Her mother − my grandma - was told at her birth to keep her warm and fed, and that she would never walk or talk and would not live past the age of 10. But my grandma had four children and was a firm believer that all her children should be treated the same.

Sarah C
“I think that approach to parenting, enabled the longevity of life my aunty enjoyed. She lived to the age of 62. My aunty had the purest heart and brought our family joy and togetherness.

“As a result of her being in my life, I grew up with an appreciation of ‘difference’ and how people perceived to be different, are treated.

“I am an occupational therapist by profession. I joined West Midlands Police in 2016 as the mental health lead. I have always been interested in the police wellbeing because my husband is a police officer.

“Due to the nature of policing, stress is a multi-faceted phenomenon and one for which there is no quick fix. Demand and austerity measures have led to extreme levels of pressure and stress within the organisation in addition to other life stressors that we all experience.

“I often felt that mental health issues in policing were not properly understood and that the right supports weren’t being offered and I wanted to contribute to changing that.

“There are a range of support available to officers and staff at WMP which enable people to make positive choices about their own health and wellbeing."