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Our research in the emergency services

We want to ensure that emergency responders get the support they need during the pandemic and beyond.

We've carried out research to listen to the current experiences of emergency responders in the fire, police and ambulance services and how the pandemic has affected their mental health.

The experiences shared have informed our key recommendations for employers when planning mental health and wellbeing support and are helping us to develop new resources to support emergency responders now and in the future.

On this page you can read reports and find out more about the following research:

Image credit: London Ambulance Service

Blue Light Covid-19 Response Report 2021

This report presents the key findings from our survey of 3,812 people working or volunteering in the police, fire and ambulance services and 37 interviews with staff, volunteers and stakeholders. The survey was live from December 2020 to January 2021 and interviews conducted from January to March 2021. The research provides a snapshot of emergency responder's experiences during a changing period of coronavirus restrictions across England and Wales.

Key research findings

  • 69% of emergency responders feel their mental health has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic. Ambulance staff were the most likely to say that their mental health has deteriorated (77%).
  • Increased workloads and more exposure to traumatic events were cited as key reasons why mental health has gotten worse throughout the pandemic. Many feel like their workload has become relentless and some line managers told us that they are struggling to support their staff on top of all their other responsibilities.
  • 87% of our respondents said that not being able to see friends or family during the pandemic has impacted on their mental health, while 69% of respondents told us that passing on coronavirus to their loved ones was a significant worry or concern for them.

Read full report in English

Read full report in Welsh

Blue Light Covid-19 Response: Service-Specific Reports 2021

We have produced in-depth reports for each emergency service. These detail the experiences of ambulance, fire and police emergency responders during a changing period of coronavirus restrictions across England and Wales.

The information in these reports can be used to highlight the importance of improving mental health in the emergency services, and to inform your service's approach to mental health. We encourage you to share them with your colleagues and networks.

All three reports are available in English as PDFs:

Blue Light Programme Reports: 2015 to 2019

We’ve had positive results from our work with emergency services through the Blue Light Programme. You can find out more about this here.

You can find our full list of findings below. You can use the information in the reports below to raise awareness and highlight the importance of improving mental health in the emergency services. Please share with your colleagues and networks as you see fit.

Programme scoping and evaluation

We commissioned scoping research at the start of the Blue Light Programme, including a survey of emergency services staff and volunteers. We repeated the survey at the close of the programme in early 2019, to see what had changed.

Findings from our 2019 survey:

Our earlier surveys and scoping research:

We also reported on the programme’s impact at the end of year one, and after a year of delivering the programme in Wales.

At key stages throughout the programme, we gathered together research and evaluation to better share what we’d learned, and make recommendations.

Research and evaluation by activity

We commissioned and conducted research into specific strands of the Blue Light Programme, to plan and evaluate our activities. We also undertook exploratory research into the public impact of workplace wellbeing and mental health support in the emergency services.

Taking Care Of You – our work with emergency departments

Much like our emergency services teams, our emergency department (ED) staff save lives every day, facing traumatic situations regularly - their mental health matters.

Our 'Taking Care Of You' campaign was aimed at ED staff. You can read our key messages, recommendations and access some tools and tips here.

Our research partner, Revealing Reality, conducted an initial scoping exercise to better understand the specific pressures or problems that cause poor mental health in the ED and what kinds of intervention would (or wouldn't) work – you can read their findings here.

We also asked them to conduct an evaluation of our campaign – read Revealing Reality's full report here.

Other ways to get involved

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