A survey commissioned by ‘Mind Blue Light’ and their partners has found that 69% of staff and volunteers across the police, fire and ambulance service said that their mental health has deteriorated due to the pandemic.
A total of 4,000 people were surveyed.
The events over the last 12 months have put an unprecedented amount of pressure on emergency workers.
Staff and volunteers have been working hard to maintain their high level of service, despite witnessing death on an unprecedented scale.
Over the last 12 months, ambulance staff have had to cope with losing their colleagues while responding to critically ill patients whilst wearing PPE that has, at times, been questioned by the very staff who have to wear it.
We recently spoke to one paramedic whose best friend, who was also a paramedic, died after contracting COVID.
They told us about their mental health struggle as they responded to a never-ending stream of 999/111 calls from individuals who unfortunately succumbed to the virus; often, right in front of them.
Death and the emergency services come hand-in-hand. But it is the sheer scale of death within such a short space of time that has taken its toll on emergency workers.
Doctors, Nurses, HCAs and other medical staff who have been working on COVID wards have also told us about how they have struggled to cope with their emotions after seeing dozens of their patients die over a short period.
Police officers who have been having to deal with the fallout of the seemingly never-ending negative bias directed towards them by some politicians and some sections of the mainstream media have been forced to respond to more calls with fewer resources as their colleagues have been self-isolating after contracting COVID following their close-contact with the public.
The never-ending protests and the constant changes to the Covid restrictions have also taken their toll on the men and women on the thin blue line who have been responding to the public’s calls for help.
And firefighters who have been helping their ambulance colleagues by driving ambulances and moving the dead have also spoken openly about their mental health struggles.
The fact that 69% of first responders have said that their mental health has deteriorated perhaps points to another crisis which could lead to more front line staff, who have been on the frontline of the pandemic, having to take time off work to recover both emotionally and physically from the pandemic.
Speaking about the findings of the survey, Kelly Drewry, Blue Light Programme Manager for Mind, said:
‘Our emergency service workers do an incredible job of helping people through some of the worst moments of their lives. Ambulance, fire and police staff are exposed to traumatic, dangerous situations every day, and it’s their job to try save as many lives as possible and keep us all safe. It’s not surprising that this can take a toll on their mental health.
‘Since last year, the emergency services have found themselves at the centre of the pandemic. This is an unparalleled situation that continues to place increased pressure on the mental health of our emergency responders. Some have developed new mental health problems, whilst those with existing mental health problems may have seen their symptoms worsen.
‘That’s why we are working closely with our funder, The Royal Foundation, and our charity partners (Police Care UK, The Ambulance Staff Charity and The Fire Fighters Charity) to help bring tailored mental health support and information to the emergency services through Mind’s Blue Light Programme.
‘To begin with, today you’ll find three new toolkits on this site, aimed at emergency services staff, line managers and mental health champions:
- Blue Light: Mental health in the fire service
- Blue Light: Mental health in the police service
- Blue Light: Mental health in the ambulance service
‘Added to these, in the coming months there will be new information and support resources produced specifically in response to this unique time. It’s all done in partnership with emergency services staff across the country, and based on detailed research into their needs, experiences and concerns – whether as first responders, operational staff, call handlers, office support or any other role across the ‘blue light’ services.
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