Emergency-services staff needed to help with mental health

Emily Pearson, from Mind, with Andy Davison and Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mark McCarty, from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service. Picture by Doug Moody

Emily Pearson, from Mind, with Andy Davison and Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mark McCarty, from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service. Picture by Doug Moody

The call is out for Blue Light Champions from the emergency services to help deliver mental-health support to their colleagues.

Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, which delivers the programme, has responded to worrying figures suggesting that one in four emergency-service workers has thought about ending their own life by launching the Blue Light Network to support those in the North East.

Emily Pearson, Blue Light Network coordinator for the North East region for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, said: “Blue-light service workers by the very nature of their job are often working in traumatic environments and subjected to unusually high levels of stress which leave them more exposed than most to developing some form of mental illness.

“The Blue Light North East Network will identify champions in each of the emergency services who will receive specialist training to support their co-workers by offering support and guidance to tackle stigma and discrimination around mental-health issues.”

Andy Davison, from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Three years ago I had to take time off from my role for a period of four months as a result of stress so I’ve got personal insight into the issues and was keen to introduce the Blue Light Network programme into our service.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mark McCarty added: “While working in the fire service is one of the most rewarding jobs, by its very nature it can be stressful. It’s vital we have the right mechanisms in place to help staff deal with stress-related and mental health issues and this is a valuable addition to the support available.

If you are interested or to find out more, visit www.nebluelight.org.uk or call 0300 303 5999.