Research has shown that there are unique challenges that can affect the mental health and wellbeing of those working in the emergency services. The Blue Light Wellbeing Framework is a sector-specific assessment for emergency services that aims to address these.
Mental health in the emergency services
Our emergency services face difficult situations every day. Research shows that emergency service staff and volunteers are more likely to experience a mental health problem than most of us, but are less likely to seek support.
Things are changing, though. In 2019, 53% of staff and volunteers say their service supports people with mental health problems, compared to 34% in 2015. There’s a long way to go—but there are plenty of ideas and examples that can help.
We asked experts from the Blue Light Programme atto recommend some particular tools, resources, interventions and information that can help support the mental health of police, fire, ambulance and search and rescue service staff and volunteers. Some of them are aimed just at the emergency services and some are relevant for other workplaces too, but each of them has something relevant to offer.
Elsewhere on Mental Health at Work, you’ll also find a blog from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, and a set of videos from four first responders explaining how they’ve made changes in their services.
So, the picture is improving. In 2015, just under one in three (29%) of staff and volunteers said their service encouraged them to talk about mental health. Four years later, that figure has risen to almost two in three (64%).
No two services are the same, and supporting the mental health of emergency services teams needs a combined effort: from charities to employers to government.
We hope you’ll find a starting point here.
Figures quoted are from Mind’s, 2019
Resources in this toolkit:
Almost nine in 10 blue light personnel have experienced stress and poor mental health. This report from Mind shows it's possible to put targeted mental health support in place.
Emergency services staff and volunteers are more at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population. This website offers information on the condition that you may find useful.