DOGS are being used as part of a new project to help police officers with their mental health.
The Support Dog project aims to stimulate discussions about mental health between police officers and employees.
Every dog has a handler who is a mental health first aider who listens to people’s concerns and directs them to more support if needed.
The dogs are also used to defuse tense situations and calm people who may become nervous or upset while in custody.
The dogs Rocky and Luther help well-being at detention centers across Sussex.
While Chief Inspector Di Lewis’ dog, Milo, and PC Daren Buck’s dog, Stanley, are frequently seen at East Sussex Police Stations.
There is also Beau, who is a PTSD assistance dog who trains with his handler, Glen, and they are often seen at Lewes headquarters.
The Supporting Dogs With Wellbeing and Trauma Project recognizes the value of dogs in assisting officials and employees with wellbeing by creating an environment where people are comfortable to talk about their wellbeing and mental health.
Sergeant Garry Botterill said, “This project is a fantastic way to encourage officials to open up, get involved, and talk about their sanity and wellbeing.
“Dogs have a friendly, calming influence and people feel noticeably more relaxed and comfortable around them.
“Introducing trained service dogs and their caregivers to police officers and frontline workers creates an environment for discussion about their mental health and highlights the relevant services that can provide help and support to those who need them.
“It’s incredibly important that people feel they can talk about their sanity, especially in a job that puts people in challenging and traumatic situations.
“The dogs provide some relief from the often difficult work we do, and anything that makes people feel positive and makes them talk should be encouraged.”