Supporting the mental health of your staff and volunteers in the emergency services

Working or volunteering in the emergency services can take a lot out of staff, whatever their role. Irregular hours, exposure to traumatic incidents, and day-to-day pressures like struggling with the cost of living can all contribute to poor mental health.

Senior leaders, managers, and HR and Wellbeing Leads can all play a key role in supporting the mental health of staff. The Mental Health at Work Commitment provides a framework for the emergency services to create a culture where people feel safe to seek support and where practising good wellbeing is an innate part of staff’s everyday working lives.

Getting started

Develop a well-being action plan.

Everyone’s experiences of mental health can be different. Encourage each staff member to fill out a wellness action plan to help you understand and recognise when they might need support.

Wellness Action Plan

Make sure they know where to get support.

Make sure all staff know what mental health support is available to them. Ensure that this information is easily accessible, whether on your intranet or through other internal channels. Visit the Ambulance Staff Charity, Police Care UK, and The Fire Fighters Charity for more information about mental health support available to emergency responders. If you’re based in Scotland, you can get support from Lifelines Scotland.

Ask the staff what they need from you.

As part of the Mental Health at Work Commitment, you should be running regular consultations and forums with staff to get insights about how you can better support them.

Send out a questionnaire or hold a session with staff forums to help you understand their day-to-day struggles and what types of support they need from you.

The Mental Health at Work Commitment

The mental health of the emergency service workforce has never been more important. That’s why Mind and The Royal Foundation have worked with the Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board to unite the emergency services community in their approach to supporting the mental health of their people.

To deliver this ambition,  senior leaders have signed the Mental Health at Work Commitment.  This is an unprecedented agreement, declaring that mental health is, and will remain, a firm priority for all  UK  emergency services. For the first time, a uniform set of standards for supporting staff mental health will be adopted and integrated into their workplaces.

Case studies

There’s some great work taking place across the emergency services to support the mental health of staff and volunteers.

Each one links to the Mental Health at Work Commitment, promoting shared learning and offering ideas to help embed best practise throughout the Blue Light community.

Standard 1: Developing a robust mental health at work plan – Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

Standard 2: Embedding work-life balance in day-to-day work – St George’s University of London

Standard 3: Campaigning to champion mental health stigma – Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS

Standard 4: Taking a coordinated approach –  Metropolitan Police

Standard 5: Tailoring support for family and friends – Scottish Mountain Rescue 

Standard 6: Listening to our people about wellbeing – South Wales Fire and Rescue 


The signing of the Mental Health at Work Commitment is just the beginning. Improving mental health outcomes within the emergency services will require an ongoing collaborative and inclusive effort.

Mind has developed a series of resources as a starting point to help put the commitment into action. They outline the commitment and provide ideas and useful resources to help anyone working or volunteering in the emergency services take action.

Resources in this toolkit: