Blue Light: Mental health in the ambulance service

Working in the ambulance service can be highly demanding. It’s particularly important to protect your mental health and wellbeing – and to do this on a daily basis, not just after experiencing big, traumatic events.

That was always true, even before the pandemic. But things have suddenly got tougher, and thinking about your mental health has never been more important than it is now.

Free, confidential, emotional support

  • Call 0300 303 4434 from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, for trauma and bereavement support from Just B
  • Text FRONTLINE to 85258
  • Or call 116 123 anywhere, any time, to talk to Samaritans

Things have got tougher

Mind’s research has found that, since the pandemic began, workload has increased right across the emergency services. Staff have faced extra challenges to their mental health, and many are experiencing stress and anxiety as a result.

Over three quarters of ambulance staff told us that their mental health had got worse – and in many cases, much worse – since the start of the pandemic. You often find yourself putting the demands of your job before your own needs. There isn’t the time or energy to think about keeping yourself well – and a third of emergency staff told us they didn’t look for help because they didn’t think their issues were serious enough.

In a recent blog on this site, Ben, from East of England Ambulance Service, shared his experience. “With all of the added stress, I am having difficulty with switching off. At work, we are making life changing decisions in more difficult situations than ever before. These decisions are ones we are taking home with us.”

Perhaps that sounds familiar?

Supporting ambulance staff’s mental health through the pandemic and beyond

Mind’s Blue Light programme is working with the emergency services community to provide advice, resources and ideas to support you in staying well, especially at this exceptional time. We’re working hard to spread the message that, in the ambulance service, it’s OK to seek help.

It’s not just about self-care, though. Support from colleagues in the same situation is really important too. And given that 44% of ambulance staff told us that pressure from management was affecting their mental health, it’s clear that line managers and workplaces have a major part to play.

Start here

So, we’ve gathered some ideas, tools and resources to help you in keeping yourself and those around you well. Below you’ll find some starting points, directly based on what 863 ambulance staff, working during the pandemic, told us is the most important at the moment.

This page will keep evolving based on feedback from the ambulance community, and we’ll be adding new resources and sources of help when they become available throughout the year.

Resources in this toolkit:

Working in ambulance service is a job where you may often feel like you are under a lot of pressure, and it’s natural to feel stressed or anxious. Mind have created a PDF booklet aimed at ambulance service personnel which focuses on the unique mental health challenges you might be experiencing as part of your role.