Mental Health Awareness week: Meet the Inspector who provides a round the clock listening ear to those in distress
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A mother-of-two who gives an ear for those in distress around the clock alongside her role as a Detective Inspector has stressed the importance of listening as part of Mental Health Awareness Week this week.
DI Jenny Kelly is one of 24 officers at Greater Manchester Police who work around the clock to support and listen to people who are in their most vulnerable state of mind.
Jenny joined GMP in 2003 and alongside her full-time role as a Detective Inspector in the Professional Standards Branch, she is also an on-call negotiator and can be called at any time of day to incidents where people are in distress or having a mental health crisis, sieges and more.
She said: "When I first joined the police, becoming a negotiator was always something I wanted to do. It sounded really interesting - I'm a people person and a good communicator so I knew I wanted to get involved as soon as possible.
"It's the most rewarding job I've ever had. I've been called to sieges lasting over 15 hours and dealt with some challenging situations but it's such a rewarding job knowing that you've helped someone."
Negotiators are involved in approximately 180 deployments per year - half of which involve people suffering from mental health issues.
A total of 24 officers are currently trained for such situations above and beyond their day-to-day roles, and work on an on-call basis to make sure someone is always support there should anyone in Greater Manchester need it at any time.
Jenny, from Liverpool, said: "It's not about talking - it's about listening. Sometimes we deal with people who have gone out that day intending to end their lives and are in a crisis situation.
"Through active listening and being able to build up that trust and rapport with them, we can help them consider different options and get them the help they need.
"I once dealt with a man who felt like no one had listened to him before and he was in a real crisis situation. It was one of the most frightening incidents I've dealt with but in the end, he felt we'd listened to him and he became very emotional, he was so grateful for the support offered to him by the negotiator team."
The 37-year-old said: "My family - including my husband two young daughters - are so understanding about my job and being on an out of hours rota to be a negotiator.
"They support me because they know how much I enjoy it and how passionate I am. No matter what anyone's personal circumstances are, helping people is so important."
Jenny's advice for helping someone who is struggling is simply just to listen.
She added: "Just listen and be supportive. Don't try and understand their situation, just try and listen. People always need a listening ear and it can make such a real difference.
"There are so many resources and ways to get help with mental health but simply listening is a great start."
More information about mental wellbeing can be found on the Mental Health Foundation website at www.mentalhealth.org.uk.