28 April 2016

Mental Health in the UK Emergency Services

When I visit customers and colleagues on ambulance stations and at hospitals around the UK, mental health, PTSD and illness from work related pressures and experiences are now topics that seem to be regularly openly discussed over a cup of tea. Nearly every ambulance crew or A&E nurse & doctor now seems to know at least one colleague from their Trust who has either taken their own life or attempted suicide; this is such a worrying and depressing statistic for me and should be of concern to us all. I'm sure the experiences in canteens in police stations and fire stations across the UK will also be similar.

Mind recently conducted an online poll where "1 in 4 (27%) of emergency service workers had contemplated taking their own life due to stress and poor mental health."

“Paramedic profession is one of the most stressful occupations worldwide” (Rybojad, Aftyka, Baran & Rzonca, 2015).

SP Services work with a number of UK charities including TASC The Ambulance Service Charity, the anti-bullying and equality charity Ditch The Label and now we will be lending our full support and resources to Mind, the mental health charity, to help continue the important and valuable work they do as part of their Blue Light Programme.

Mind says "Our independent research shows that the estimated quarter of a million people who work and volunteer in the emergency services are even more at risk of experiencing a mental health problem than the general population, but are less likely to seek support."

Mind was awarded LIBOR funding to deliver their Blue Light Programme, to provide mental health support for emergency services staff and volunteers from police, fire, ambulance and search and rescue services across England up until the 31st March 2016. That funding has now expired. we all need to look at how we can work together so that Mind can continue to provide the help and support and is so badly needed by some of our colleagues and their families.

All the team at SP Services are pleased to support the work and research on mental health awareness that Mind are doing, particularly through their Blue Light Programme

Check out their latest news on the 4 new pilot Blue Light Mental Health Networks which will go live in 2016 -

There are also lots of regional fund raising events planned during 2016.

A team of paramedics from NWAS have organised a 5 day walk from Scarborough on the East Coast of England to Blackpool on the West Coast of England, a total distance of 130 miles. On the 26th September 2016, they are setting off from Scarborough RNLI Lifeboat Station, then passing through numerous cities, towns and villages, calling in at Police, Fire, Ambulance and RNLI stations across the country. The walk will be finishing 5 days later on Blackpool Pier. During the walk they will be raising funds for the charity MIND's Blue Light Programme and spreading the word of this excellent charity and the support it offers to Emergency Service Personnel. 
Please support them and visit their page at


You can also check out this latest video about the Blue Light Programme.
Please share this video on your various social media accounts.



Finally, let's look after each other. In year's gone by crews would sit around after a bad job and have time for a cuppa, a debrief with crew mates, and even a bit of black humour. Now we all know that crews are usually under pressure to respond to the next 999 call and that it can be difficult if not impossible to book yourself off for an hour without being made to justify yourself. Some employers have better support mechanisms than others, but the research from Mind  would appear to suggest that a lot more still needs to be done. In the meantime it's down to all of us to keep an eye on our colleagues and offer support when its required. 


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