Nottinghamshire Police inspector Craig Nolan is a larger than life character.
At just over 6ft tall, he often has the loudest presence in a room but under the surface there is a struggle few would expect.
For while police officers are often called upon to help sort other people’s lives, it is easy to forget they have their own challenges.
And now the 47-year-old has bravely decided to share the story about his mental health battle for ‘Time to Talk Day’ on Thursday 6 February.
“I joined THE POLICE TO STOP OTHER CHILDREN GOING THROUGH THE TRAUMA I HAD GONE THROUGH”
CRAIG NOLAN, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE POLICE INSPECTOR
Although joining the police force was Inspector Nolan’s calling in life, he soon discovered that other people’s problems brought up difficult emotions of his own.
“Growing up, I had a difficult childhood,” he said.
“I thought it was normal, but I noticed that my friend’s lives were a lot calmer and less fearful than mine was.
“I joined the police to stop other children from going through the trauma that I had gone through.”
The inspector remembered a particular case in 1997 where he dealt with a young boy who had gone through a similar trauma to what he had experienced.
This case unfortunately brought back all the memories Inspector Nolan had hidden away.
“My behaviour at work was changing, I was less patient, less happy and I was drinking more,” he said.
“My sergeant noticed something was wrong. That’s when I first had counselling.”
“As men we tend to be very quiet and just get on with it”
craig nolan, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE POLICE inspector
The inspector describes himself as a big guy who had built a shell around him so that he couldn’t be hurt yet he was still a ‘mess, crying and shaking’ in front of a therapist.
Inspector Nolan says he understands why men in particular often find it more difficult to speak out.
“As men, we tend to be very quiet and just get on with it because it’s seen as a strength to be able to control our emotions,” he said.
“It’s getting better, I think we’re talking more now. I never would have spoken about this ten years ago.
“In the police we’ve come to a point now where we care so much for each other that those walls are being knocked down.”
While there is support in place for police officers who have to deal with difficult incidents, Inspector Nolan feels its important to talk about personal issues too which he experienced when his marriage broke down.
“I’ve created an environment where people in my team want to talk to me,” he said.
“I’m certain that with this change in culture, more and more people will seek support to help them through the chaos that life sometimes throws at us.”
Time to Talk day is organised by the mental health charity ‘Time to Change’ and works to promote conversations on mental health.