When Leading Senior Constable Natalie Dean met Ms Howey at the Northcote Police Station in 1998, she looked up to the senior officer.

“She was a fantastic copper,” Ldg Sen Const Dean said.

“I was junior to Anne but I modelled what I wanted to be on her.

“A lot of people did.”

When two of their colleagues were killed in a collision, Ms Howey and Ldg Sen Const Dean were seen by their fellow female colleagues as mentors.

Ldg Sen Const Dean said they felt it was their responsibility to rally the team and ignore their own grief.

She said she didn’t know about the symptoms of PTSD at the time, so she didn’t see the signs when Ms Howey was struggling.

“We were good friends and I knew her well, but I didn’t know much about PTSD,” she said.

“We used to have regular catch ups and she’d always cancel at the last minute.

“If I knew what she was going through, I would have picked up the phone and asked her how she was going.”

Ldg Sen Const Dean now works at Victoria Police’s Media Unit and said education about mental health was crucial to help prevent others slipping through the cracks.

“We spend eight hours with one another on the van and you see some awful things together, so you’re going to notice when your workmate is changing,” she said.

“That’s why it’s so important to know how to see the signs.

“Even if you can’t provide the help they need, you can tell someone who can.”

Now that Ldg Sen Const Dean knows about Ms Howey’s illness, she is doing everything she can to help her friend recover, including supporting her to attend an interview for this article.

Editorial: Ashlee Williams

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