This Blog has been submitted by Sergeant Garry Botterill from the Wellbeing Team at Sussex Police. Garry was one of the key speakers at our International Webinar yesterday. During his speech he talked about the success of the app here’s how it all came about.

Backup Buddy

How do you reach the hard to reach? How can you engage with people who don’t have time? Well you can start by keeping it simple and that’s exactly what we did with Backup Buddy Police Mental Health app! 

As a frontline Police Sergeant in 2015 I wanted to do my utmost to destroy the stigma around mental health and the destructive attitudes that thrived in the service and prevented officers and staff from seeking help.  Surrey and Sussex Police were making progress with mental health issues and there was help and support available, the problem was, you had to know where to look and you had to be logged on to a Police computer to access it.

I came up with the idea of an app called Backup Buddy, an app that people could call on 24/7 if they needed information, support or advice.  Together with Judith Broug we set about writing the content and putting the app together.  We wanted people within my force to tell their stories, we know that a personal account can be very powerful and I was lucky enough to get several ‘brave souls’ to provide videos or articles about their personal experiences.  This was the stigma breaker, this is what got the conversations going, this is where people could identify with the issues raised!  We added sign posting to support, both within and outside of our organisation and the app was launched!

It immediately proved popular within Surrey and Sussex and we received lots of positive feedback from users who reported that it had helped them.  We promoted the app nationally at the Oscar Kilo Upbeat! Event and we received several enquiries from other forces to have the app tailor made to reflect their own officers and staff ‘stories’ and routes to support.  

We now have over 14 forces with the app as well as Fire and Rescue and Ambulance Services and the app has also crossed the Atlantic to Canada. 

I am very pleased with the success of the app, but for me, the messages I get from people who found it really helpful when they were going through a difficult time, mean the most. 

Here in Surrey and Sussex we are adding to our app all the time so the content is always relevant and interesting.  It is a great way to reach people, it is packed with useful information to help the individual or to help family or colleagues or members of your team. It is also an excellent way for an organisation to share wellbeing initiatives and events and provides a resource for supervisors to support their teams more effectively.

For more information about Backup Buddy and to see if your force has signed up, please visit their website