Simon's story

I volunteer in the search and rescue service alongside my jobs in the fire and ambulance services. I’ve had some stress and sleepless night over incidents attended and I know other personnel that have experienced a mental health problem.

I don’t think we can stress enough how important it is to speak about mental health

In an emergency services environment, dealing with the day to day calls and incidents in addition to the day to day running of an emergency service can be as stressful sometimes, if not more, than an incident itself.

I’ve accessed support through the Blue Light Programme and it’s encouraged me to be more aware of my own mental health and see that there was other people just like me who I could talk to and understand. It’s made me understand how to support colleagues more than before too.

The most important thing I’ve learnt is about taking care of me

But also recognising when my team members might be struggling, how to approach them and how to access further support. The booklets available in the free search and rescue pack are particularly useful to refer back to.

If someone needed support I would talk to them and tell them that there is support out there from a number of angles including the Blue Light Programme, myself or Blue Light Champions and other charities. Don’t be silent and don’t try and deal with it on your own.

Things are starting to change when it comes to mental health

I think some of the team would be willing to talk; we have a good mixture of other blue light service personnel in our team too who bring their experiences and can talk.

The overall culture has become much better and will improve further. Our partner organisations are doing the same and at the end of the day we are one big 999 family working together.

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We need more search and rescue Champions

If you become a Blue Light Champion you will raise awareness of mental health in your team and help to change the way we all think and act when it comes to mental health in the emergency services. How you do this is completely up to you, and we encourage you to get creative!

Being a Champion in your search and rescue team doesn't have to take up a lot of time - you can give as much time as you have. Every activity, no matter how big or small, contributes to the central goal of challenging mental health stigma and making it ok to talk.

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