We’ve been working with the Royal Foundation to create a directory of therapists with the skills, qualifications, and experience to work with emergency responders.

The Royal Foundation is funding the creation of the Blue Light Together Network of Emergency Services Therapists (NEST), which will be made available to all those in need of support via referral partners, including the charity Police Care UK.

As part of an expert reference group, we’re helping to develop a role profile for emergency responder therapists who will then be listed on the directory. Specialist continuing professional development will also be available to ensure they provide the best possible care to emergency responders.

The work is driven by a recognition that traditional employee assistance programme (EAP) services aren’t always suitable for some professions.

Mental health

Kris Ambler, our Workforce Lead, said: “It’s early days in what is an interesting multi-agency project, but we’ve already made some big strides.

“Importantly, once the directory is developed, it will help our members achieve parity of esteem with professions that have traditionally dominated this space.

“These will be paid roles across the UK that reflect the skills, experience and specialism of our members.”

The network forms part of the Blue Light Together package of mental health support announced today by The Duke of Cambridge at the Royal Foundation Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium in London.

Dr Hadyn Williams, our Chief Executive, said: “We recognise the immense pressures under which emergency responders work, often exposing them to trauma that can place considerable strain on their mental health and wellbeing.

“The Symposium signals a clear and significant statement of intent from the Royal Foundation to do all they can to support emergency responders.

Support emergency responders

“We feel privileged to support the Royal Foundation in this commitment and believe that our membership of highly-qualified counsellors and psychotherapists is uniquely placed to assist emergency responders.”

The symposium saw all emergency services across each of the home nations commit to a uniform approach to supporting the mental health of their emergency responder workforce.

Speaking at today’s Symposium, the Duke of Cambridge said: “This is an unprecedented agreement, and it sends a powerful message to all emergency responders that mental health is, and will remain, a firm priority for the UK’s emergency services.

“It means that, for the first time, a uniform set of standards for supporting the mental health of emergency responders will be adopted and integrated into their workplaces.

“This is a crucial step in ensuring that the staff and volunteers who work so tirelessly for our nation can be properly protected.”

The chief officers of National Police Chiefs Council, National Fire Chiefs Council, Association of Ambulance Chief Executives and UK Search and Rescue made a public pledge on behalf of their organisations at the symposium.

Commitment

The Mental Health at Work Commitment for The Emergency Services means that every emergency service organisation in the UK will:

  • Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity
  • Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes
  • Promote an open culture around mental health
  • Increase organisational confidence and capability
  • Provide mental health tools and support
  • Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting

Supporting the commitments and the NEST directory is the Blue Light Together resource website, which provides blue light workers, their friends, families and retirees with information and advice tailored to their needs and experiences.

The website includes information and advice to help emergency responders with mental health, real life stories and tips from colleagues working in the field, and guides for employers so they can support their teams with their wellbeing.

Priority

Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “The wellbeing of our officers is a priority for all police chiefs, as we know that policing is by its nature a stressful job, and that officers are exposed to some of life's most challenging situations on a daily basis.

“The work being done by The Royal Foundation, led by the Duke of Cambridge, is of the utmost importance and we’re proud to contribute to it.

“Such partnerships allow us to make great strides in changing attitudes towards mental health in society, and provide faster and more effective support for those who need it the most.”

Mark Hardingham, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council said: “We’re grateful to The Royal Foundation for bringing together emergency service leaders to work in partnership and create lasting change.”

Daren Mochrie, chair of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said: “Our staff are our most valuable resource and by the nature of their role, their physical and mental health can be affected.

“With the support of this new Blue Light Together initiative, led by the Duke of Cambridge and the Royal Foundation, we hope that this will encourage more leaders and staff in UK ambulance services to speak up about their mental health.”