Emergency health workers take part in ground-breaking mental health project

Biggleswade and Shefford firefighters and paramedics helped extricate a motorist who was trapped by

Biggleswade and Shefford firefighters and paramedics helped extricate a motorist who was trapped by her injuries after a crash involving three cars in Henlow last night. - Credit: Archant

Members of Cambridgeshire’s emergency services have taken part in a ground-breaking project focused on improving the mental health of local blue light personnel.

The event took place at the Cambridge Belfry Hotel, in Cambourne, on Monday and was organised by the mental health charity Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire (CPSL) Mind to mark the successes of the latest phase of its Blue Light project. The project has involved a wide range of activity - all designed to raise awareness of mental health issues and to tackle mental health-related stigma among staff and volunteers within the police, fire, ambulance, search & rescue and St John Ambulance services.

The local work is part of Mind’s national Blue Light Programme which has responded to the fact that emergency services personnel are at particularly high risk of developing mental health issues, particularly anxiety and depression. A survey carried out by Mind in 2014 showed that 87 per cent of workers had experienced stress, low mood and poor mental health working for the emergency services.

Another 27 per cent had contemplated taking their own life due to stress and poor mental health and 63 per cent had contemplated leaving their job or voluntary role. The study also showed that 96 per cent of people with a mental health problem experience stigma and discrimination.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust have all signed the Blue Light Pledge.

Other achievements include;

Recruitment of 278 Blue Light champions;

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184 emergency staff from across the services trained in mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

Aly Anderson, chief executive officer at CPSL Mind, said: “CPSL Mind is very proud to be part of the national Blue Light programme. For a variety of reasons, the rate of mental health issues among those working and volunteering in the emergency services is particularly high. Our emergency services do an amazing job looking after others; our work is to support the local staff and volunteer teams in looking after themselves.”