In the emergency services, dealing with difficult situations has always been part of your job. But the Covid-19 pandemic has been especially challenging, distressing and traumatic for many people in the ambulance, police, fire and rescue services. If you're struggling to cope right now, you are not alone. Your mental health matters, and you deserve support.
On this page you can find out about:
We know that the pandemic isn't affecting everyone the same way. There are different challenges across law enforcement, medical emergency response, and fire and rescue. And experiences may vary depending on where you usually work, or how long you've been in your job. It might feel like no one understands exactly what you are dealing with.
But we've heard many emergency responders recently sharing similar struggles. If you can relate to any of the feelings or experiences below, you are not alone:
“Personally, with all of the added stress, I am having difficulty with switching off. At work, we are making life-changing decisions in more difficult situations than ever before.” – Ben, Ambulance Service
“A few sleepless nights followed before my first deployment and sitting around waiting for someone to die became my new state of readiness. The call-outs came thick and fast.” – Jane, Police Service
“Not seeing people has been really, really hard. That has probably affected my mental health more than anything else. It’s what human beings are meant to do isn’t it?” – Kirit, Police Service
"I’d often find myself just sat there, not really doing anything but thinking about the job, and thinking about whether there was anything else I could have done."
When it’s your job to help others, it can feel hard to take time to look after yourself. But your mental health matters. Whether you work in the police, fire or ambulance services, here are some ideas to help take care of your wellbeing:
“Talking to my colleague probably saved my life. Having the chance to open up to someone was the beginning of a process that ended with me being correctly diagnosed and treated for the mental health problem I was living with.” – Neil, Ambulance Service
“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve spoken more freely about how I was coping, and tried not to bottle anything up. I also have a great group of friends, regularly doing video chats, setting challenges and creating workouts to share.” – Nakita, Fire Service
“Since I have spoken out, other colleagues including senior officers have told me how they went through that 20 years ago or whatever it was. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one, that people do get through it and progress.” – Richard, Fire Service
There are many resources, services and organisations offering support tailored to you and your role:
Try asking your supervisor, line manager or colleagues if you can access specialist support, such as:
If you are a student paramedic, police cadet or at fire college, you might be able to access extra support through your course provider. Our student mental health hub has more tips and resources for anyone who is studying.
For further support and guidance, not exclusively for emergency responders, see our pages on:
"My main support through the whole situation this year has been people who are in the same boat as me." – Nikki, Fire Service
This information was published on March 31, 2021.
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