The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has said he finds it incredible that the Prison Service does not keep records on the number of staff leaving the Service because of PTSD.
Doug Beattie MC MLA said:
“In a day and age where mental health is at the top of the political agenda, I find it incredible that the Department for Finance does not keep records of those Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) staff who have been affected by or who were discharged from service due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Instead, it seems due to advice from a medical officer and human resources, that PTSD and other mental health issues are categorised as ill health, as if individuals should be ashamed that they suffer mental health issues in the workplace.
“As a society we have tried to destigmatise mental health issues, as they can affect anyone and in extremes can lead to self-harm and suicide. Yet this policy of non-recording does the absolute opposite.
“The question arises, does the civil service as a whole keep records of its employees who have had, or who still do suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues, and what is their rationale for categorising it as purely ill health?
“The NIPS is a highly stressful and dangerous occupation, both inside and outside of the workplace. Issues surrounding the mental health of prison officers are important and steps must be taken to assist with the welfare of the officers within the NIPS; this includes keeping records of those discharged with PTSD so the scale of the issue is known.
“To that end I call on the Justice Minister, who is responsible for the welfare of the NIPS, to engage with Conor Murphy to address this issue as soon as possible, and to establish if this is common practice throughout the whole of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, because if so, then we have failed in our duty to those who have left work due to mental health problems.”