Brain, Mark

Start date:
October 2021
Research Topic:
The overrepresentation of mental ill-health within UK policing
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Adam Edwards and Dr Rachel Swann
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

There is a substantially improved awareness of mental ill-health within policing. Existing research suggests that police officers are far more likely to suffer from mental ill-health than the public, which when considering some of the horrific incidents police officers attend is not surprising. However, these episodic incidents do not fully illuminate a police culture that has distinct working personality and organisational characteristics.
Previously, before starting my Ph.D., I was a police officer for nineteen years, which was sadly cut short due to suffering from trauma. I have witnessed bright and healthy police officers become poorly concerning their mental health and often this was down to various factors. Now I am using my experience to help people within policing better understand causal mechanisms of mental ill-health.
Why is this important? Well, as the bulk of research is conducted via surveying or if qualitative, by interviewing police officers, data is gleaned from what participants say. Academically, I take the philosophical principle of Critical Realism, which understands that what goes on in the real world may not always be visible. What we see and infer can be problematic. So, my research is looking for what is termed ‚Äėunderlying casual mechanisms‚Äô of mental ill-health within policing.
This is genuinely exciting social research because discovering underlying causation could better influence future policy surrounding police officer wellbeing and untimely save lives. If you are interested in my research and would like to find out more, then please get in touch.