University of Leicester receives grant from Movember to help develop peer support programme for senior leaders in UK Police Force

Up to 250 police superintendents across police forces in England and Wales will soon benefit from a peer support programme designed to support their wellbeing transitioning into senior leadership and later retirement, thanks to a programme developed by the University of Leicester and funded by men’s health charity Movember.

The Resilient Senior Leaders Programme (RESLEAPS), was developed by psychologists at the University of Leicester in partnership with a retired Chief Superintendent from Lancashire Police.

Research has shown the transition in and beyond retirement is particularly difficult for senior male officers, who can struggle with a loss of identity in leaving their role, combined with the accumulation of exposure to trauma over the years. This can result in poor mental health and wellbeing, which the programme aims to address through peer support and reflective group processes. 

The programme is one of 14 projects from across the world, including the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, and the US, that form part of the Movember Vets and First Responders programme.

The £4.47 million Vets and First Responders initiative will use funds raised by Movember and The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), with additional funding from Gillette in the UK, to identify and evaluate promising programs that improve the mental health and wellbeing and prevent suicide in veterans and first responders around the world.  

Movember's Global Director of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Brendan Maher, says: “We owe an enormous amount to our veterans and first responder communities. Through this initiative, Movember wants to help our grant funding partners prove that their programs are positively impacting mental health outcomes.”

“We’re really looking forward to working with the University of Leicester and helping evaluate and build evidence for programs that truly make a difference to the lives of these guys and their families.”

Olivia Hughes, Senior Communications Manager, Gillette UK, says: “We’ve always helped men to look, feel and act their best, but we know it’s far more than what you can see on the surface. As Movember’s official shave partner for over eight years, we’re proud to work with the charity each year to raise funds and awareness for such an important cause. The past year has been no exception, and after a such a challenging time, and one that’s really shone the spotlight on the importance of our mental health, we’re so pleased that the funds raised are going to these incredible projects that foster such important support for our frontline workers.”

Dr Ceri Jones, Occupational Psychologist at the University of Leicester says: “Wellbeing is a priority area for UK Police forces, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Promotion to superintendent rank with its complex and competing pressures can leave officers vulnerable to stress and burnout, whilst repeated exposure to traumatic incidents during a 30-year career can heighten the risk of developing anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms, magnified by the isolation of leadership roles. 

Superintendents are usually at the end of their career approaching retirement, which is associated with stress and decreased mental health. The loss of a valued role and support network post-retirement for those with trauma histories can increase risk of suicidality, particularly for men. 

This preventative programme will be invaluable for these male officers – the combined peer support networks and reflective group practices work to foster an open and trusting culture, reduce the stigma of seeking support, and creating a safe space to share concerns. We’re delighted that through the funding this programme will reach even more of the UK police force.”