In today’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced additional support for emergency services staff and volunteers. Mind today confirms that a further £1.5 million is going to be made available to support the continued delivery of Mind’s Blue Light Programme.
The funding, administered by the Cabinet Office, will allow the mental health charity to continue its vital work providing mental health support to 999 staff and volunteers across police, fire, ambulance and search and rescue until March 2018.
Responding to the announcement, Chief Executive of Mind, Paul Farmer CBE, said:
“We’re grateful for this much-needed additional funding, which will allow us to continue delivering mental health support to our hard-working emergency services staff and volunteers. Blue Light workers do an extremely challenging job day in, day out, frequently encountering difficult and traumatic situations. But they’re not immune to mental health problems – in fact, our own research has found over 9 in 10 emergency services workers have experienced stress, low mood or poor mental health while working for the emergency services, and over one in four admitted that this had caused them to contemplate suicide. That’s why it’s so important that comprehensive, ongoing mental health support is available.
“Since March 2015, we have worked in partnership with emergency services across England who have been committed to making sure the mental health of their staff and volunteers is a priority. Mind’s Blue Light programme has helped thousands of staff and volunteers across our police, search and rescue, fire and ambulance services in England to actively challenge mental health stigma, learn more about mental health and make positive changes in their approach to wellbeing.
“Working alongside our local Minds, the extra funding will allow us to reach more people than ever. From 2017, for the first time we’ll be able to deliver much-needed support to emergency services staff and volunteers in Wales, as well as extending our existing support to include 999 call-handlers and new recruits. This investment will also allow us to begin to identify and tackle specific mental health challenges facing accident and emergency (A&E) workers within England and Wales including doctors, consultants, nurses and security staff.”
Regie Butler, 48, is a Police Sergeant with Devon and Cornwall Police on response, answering emergency incidents. In addition, Regie is a volunteer Rescue Officer with Newquay Coastguard Rescue team, on call 24/7, assisting with emergencies on the coast, such as cliff rescues. Regie has experienced anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts and is a Blue Light champion, raising awareness of mental health among the police and search and rescue.
“I became a Blue Light champion to try to turn my mental health problems into something positive that could help others. I’ve been suicidal twice in my life, most recently about 12 or 18 months ago. It was an awful time, but I managed to get through it. I couldn’t have done it alone. I realised the best thing to do is to spread the message that we’ve just got to talk about it and not hide away or suffer in silence. That only makes things worse and can be the difference between life and death. Mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of, and there is help and support out there.
“By providing information about, and raising awareness of mental health, Mind’s Blue Light programme has helped so many emergency services staff and volunteers better identify poor mental health in themselves and their colleagues. Additional funding for Mind’s Blue Light Programme will help us work together to continue to bring mental health out of the shadows in the 999 services. It will also help Mind continue to run the Blue Light Infoline – a confidential information and support line for emergency services staff, volunteers and their friends and family, particularly those who are worried about their own mental health or someone else’s.”
Find out more about Mind’s Blue light Programme