Emergency Services personnel are always at the forefront when it comes to helping distressed citizens. They do an exceptional job in alleviating stress in emergency situations. The nature of emergency service work routinely exposes workers to trauma. However, a culture of stigma continues to prevent those who need help from seeking it. Because of this, emergency service and police officers experience higher rates of mental health issues including depression and suicide that has not shown any signs of reducing. Many agencies did not have a mental health strategy in place until 2016, after the release of a set of mental health guidelines by BeyondBlue.
Beyondblue have developed the Police and Emergency Services Program to alleviate the situation. The program aims to aid the mental health of police and emergency services personnel and reduce risks of suicide among the group. It is offered to current and retired employees, volunteers and the families of the group.
The main aims of the program are:
- Reduce stigma around mental health conditions, attempted suicide and suicide among police and emergency personnel.
- Increasing the number of personnel to take action when a threat to their mental health is notified and provide support to their peers that are in stressful situations.
- Increase capability of police and emergency department personnel to create and maintain mentally healthy workplaces.
- Increase public awareness of the situation and build appreciation for the personnel in the community.
Data from the Black Dog Institute’s survey of NSW firefighters showing the impact of cumulative trauma exposure on a variety of mental health outcomes.
Data from a Black Dog Institute study of ambulance personnel showing the links between manager behaviour and the psychosocial safety climate of the workplace and mental health symptoms.
Good Practice Framework by Beyond Blue:
In coordination with various Australian agencies and experts, beyondblue have developed the good practice framework for mental health and wellbeing in first responder organisations. The framework provides information on the range of programs and practices required to effectively promote the mental health of police and emergency services personnel and reduce suicide risk. It is intended to be used as a practical guide by police and emergency services agencies to develop the mental health strategy to promote a healthy workplace.
Download the good practice framework here
Apart from the Good Practice Framework, Beyond Blue is working on a National Mental Health and Wellbeing Study of Police and Emergency Services. The study includes a survey where beyond blue has collaborated with The University of Western Australia and Roy Morgan.
Answering the call – a national survey
Answering the call is a national survey, which is phase 2 of the study. The survey aimed to collect much needed evidence about the factors affecting the mental health and wellbeing of police and emergency services personnel and the best way to provide support. This highly anticipated, world class research has just been released.
Hear from James Maskey, (National Engagement Manager, Beyondblue) who will be sharing his insights on the ‘Answering the call – The National Mental Health and Wellbeing Study of Police and Emergency Services’ at the Mental Health Strategies for First Responders on the 6th & 7th March 2019, Melbourne.
** If you or anyone you know needs help you can call the Beyond Blue Support Service at any time on 1300 22 46 36.