Search and rescue - supporting a colleague with a mental health problem

A guide for staff and volunteers in the search and rescue service on how to support a colleague experiencing a mental health problem.

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What is mental health and mental wellbeing?

Taryn blogs about mental health and wellbeing. What do they mean to you?

Taryn Ozorio
Posted on 24/01/2011

What is a mental health problem?

Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. Some mental health problems are described using words that are in everyday use, for example ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’. This can make them seem easier to understand, but can also mean people underestimate how serious they can be.

A mental health problem feels just as bad, or worse, than any other illness – only you cannot see it. Mental health problems are very common; it affects around one in four people in Britain, and it's even more common among people in the search and rescue service.

But there is still stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health problems, as well as many myths about what different diagnoses mean. Many people say that being discriminated against in work and social situations can be a bigger burden than the illness itself.

Our research shows:

  • Search and rescue service staff and volunteers are more likely to experience a mental health problem than the general workforce.
  • For volunteers, balancing search and rescue duties with work and personal life can have a significant impact on mental health.
  • 23% of search and rescue service personnel think that colleagues would treat them differently, in a negative way, if they disclosed a mental health problem.


This information was published in November 2015. We will revise it in 2018.

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