The silent killer of emergency service workers

Support us and go ad-free

Mental health is amongst the leading causes of ill health in the world, with 1 in 4 people suffering from a mental or neurological disorder at one time or another during their lives. Emergency service workers are twice as likely to suffer from these conditions than the general public.

Recent studies conducted by the mental health charity Mind have shown that 55% of participants had experienced some form of mental health issue during their careers, against 26% in the general workforce. Mind have subsequently launched a new initiative, the Blue Light Programme, to assist emergency service workers experiencing mental health problems and have been award LIBOR funding to progress their work.

Mental health is a silent killer of emergency service personnel the world over. In Australia, the Intentional Self Harm fact sheet showed that between 2002 and 2012, 110 emergency service personnel, from police, fire, and ambulance died by suicide. A recent request for statistics on UK emergency service personnel, found that they are not readily available from the Office for National Statistics, Home Office or Coroner’s Office. The failure to accurately record these statistics can be laid at the de-centralisation of information networks that once collated such data.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not a mental illness reserved for the battlefield but can also be attributed to the numerous different types of trauma that our emergency services respond to daily. They live and work in communities that they serve and have families of their own. This can lead to them facing their own mortality when faced with a member of the public the same age as their own children or siblings or be faced with someone they know. Empathising with the people they serve is a part of who they are and can leave them exposed. PTSD can occur from attending one significant incident or following repeated exposure to trauma events. It can take days, weeks or even years for the PTSD to manifest fully.

The monitoring for this is not universally agreed and intervention is, therefore, lacking. Emergency service workers are notorious for bottling up issues, rather than discussing them, which compounds the problem. It is not unheard of for emergency service workers to self-medicate. Common signs of mental health issues surfacing include, excessive sleep, unplanned time off and the use of alcohol and drugs.

The latest incident attended is not always something that can be easily shared with loved ones, and they know that colleagues have their own difficult experiences to deal with.

Exposure to incidents is not the only factor in the increase in mental health issues in workers; increasing workloads, changing job roles, austerity and financial uncertainty have all contributed to mental health issues and the prevalence of PTSD in emergency service personnel as they battle the stressors of emergency response with everyday life. It has also been suggested that PTSD can be linked to burnout, caused by poor organisational leadership.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Emergency service workers are not superheroes, they are just people like you or I and sometimes need a hero of their own to ensure their mental health and wellbeing. The programme being run by Mind should be applauded and supported, just as our emergency services support us whenever we make the call.

 

Featured images source: Wikicommons

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed