for better mental health

About the Blue Light Programme

Over four years, we worked with partners to deliver an ambitious and comprehensive programme of activity aimed at reducing stigma, promoting wellbeing and improving mental health support for those working or volunteering in ambulance, fire, police, and search and rescue services.

Between 2015 and 2019, we set about creating lasting change in this sector. During that time, thousands of staff and volunteers across 999 services actively challenged stigma, learned more about mental health and made positive changes in their approach to wellbeing.

Our Blue Light Programme was underpinned by evidence at every stage – from our initial scoping research to evaluations of all our interventions.

Our legacy report

We compiled learnings and key recommendations from the Blue Light Programme into a single report, Wellbeing and mental health in the emergency services.

You can download the English summary, the Welsh summary or the full report below.

Read the full report

Celebrating our mental health support for team 999

Liz, Vicky, John and Darren share how Mind's blue light support has impacted them and their colleagues, and why support for mental health in the emergency services needs to continue.

Our funding

The Blue Light Programme was launched with LIBOR funding administered by the UK Government. Following four years of funded activity, the programme came to an end in March 2019. But Mind will always be here for team 999. Much of the support we've offered continues to be available, but the way we work in the sector has changed.

Access blue light support

Our activities

The programme focused on six areas:

  • Tackling stigma
  • Empowering staff to lead change
  • Training line managers
  • Making support accessible
  • Building resilience
  • Establishing networks

As well as delivering and testing these interventions, we also influenced wider practice and policy, working with emergency services and other partners to support their own wellbeing initiatives, tailored to 999 teams. Services can still make use of all our learning, advice and support through our Blue Light Programme Blueprint Pack.

Image credit: West Midlands Police

Access the Blueprint

Our reach

  • 100+ emergency services and support organisations signed the Blue Light Time to Change pledge, committing to practical action to tackle mental health stigma.
  • 3,000 Blue Light Champions registered – staff and volunteers who take positive action at work to raise awareness and challenge the way people think and act on mental health.
  • 400 peer supporters were empowered through training to share their personal lived experiences to help colleagues and signpost to support.
  • 9,000 line managers, team leaders and pastoral staff were trained in managing mental health in the emergency services.
  • 9,000+ calls were made to our Blue Light Infoline, which provided emergency services staff, volunteers and their families with personalised information and support.

"In the ambulance service, we like to have this feeling that we're bulletproof, and sometimes you can feel a bit ashamed to admit that there's something wrong with you."

627,000+ views of our webpages

360,000+ printed booklets distributed

46,000+ resource downloads

Four years on

  • We surveyed thousands of emergency services staff and volunteers at the start of the programme in 2015, and again at the end, to see what had changed. Our end-of-programme survey in 2019 showed:
  • The proportion of personnel who said they were aware of mental health support available to them rose from 46 per cent in 2015 to 65 per cent.
  • There was also a big increase in the number of respondents who said their organisations encouraged them to talk about mental health – from 29 per cent in 2015 to 64 per cent.
  • Those who'd had some involvement with the Blue Light Programme were particularly positive, with 70 per cent saying they feel encouraged by their organisations, compared with only 42 per cent of those who had not been involved.
  • There was also a large rise in the proportion of respondents who said their organisation supported people with mental health problems well – up from 34 per cent to 53 per cent.
  • Those who had had some involvement with the Blue Light Programme were more likely to be positive about organisational support compared with those not involved (57 per cent versus 49 per cent).
  • 60 per cent said they felt confident attitudes towards mental health at their organisation were changing for the better, and 56 per cent were confident that mental health support was also improving.
  • Of those who completed the survey, 41 per cent had been involved with the Blue Light Programme in some way. 59 per cent said they'd had no involvement.
  • The highest rate of programme involvement among survey respondents was in the fire service (47 per cent), and the lowest in the ambulance service (38 per cent).
  • Those who engaged with the Blue Light Programme were more likely to have lived experience of a mental health problem (45 per cent compared with 34 per cent of those with no lived experience).

Finding the evidence

The Blue Light Programme was underpinned by evidence at every stage – from our initial scoping research to evaluations of all our interventions. We've made all our research and evaluation publicly available.

Browse our research

Other ways to get involved

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