Mental health of seven out of ten emergency responders worsened by pandemic

A survey of almost 4,000 staff and volunteers across police, fire and ambulance services in the UK has laid bare the scale of poor mental health among emergency responders.

It revealed seven out of ten emergency service workers had worsening mental health over the past year, with ambulance staff being the worst affected.

7 in 10

Emergency workers' mental health suffered

1 in 4

Ambulance workers said their current mental health was good

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.

Sergeant Chris Howard from Derbyshire police has been in the force for almost thirty years - but she says she's never experienced anything quite like the past 12 months.

The impact of the work, the volume of the work, in some ways the vulnerability of the people we are dealing with how we deal with. How we deal with a world that's locked down when we were, other than the NHS pretty much the only people, out there. So it's been quite a tough year.

Sergeant Chris Howard

Emma Mamo is from Mind, the charity which conducted the survey. She says people's experiences of the pandemic have been quite different and it's vital to recognise that.

"I think we all say we've been in the same storm but not the same boat and you don't really understand what people have dealt with in their working life and  also then what they've had to deal with at home.

"And I suppose with this pandemic they're trying to be part of the emergency response and supporting people and then everything that's going on at home as well and everything inbetween."

Emergency workers joined the clapping for hospital and caring staff during the first lockdown.

It became a powerful and very public symbol of togetherness, but they too were on the front line dealing with problems which developed behind closed doors.

Now, the Blue Light programme will offer support to the people who for a year have been relied on to help everyone else.