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Emergency workers suffering from mental health

back view of a policeman ambulance man and firefighter with their arms around each other
back view of a policeman ambulance man and firefighter with their arms around each other Image credit: lbc.co.uk

Emergency service workers have said they have experienced problems with their mental health through the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a study conducted by Mind, out of 3,812 staff and volunteers who deal with 999 cases one in four admitted their wellbeing had deteriorated over the past twelve months.

Ambulance staff have been affected most with 77% saying they have noticed an effect on their mental health, 66% of police revealed they have mentally struggled through the period and 65% of firefighters.

Head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, Emma Mamo, said: “We know that even before the coronavirus outbreak, there were high rates of poor mental health across the emergency services.

“It’s clear from this latest survey data that the mental health of our emergency responder community has got even worse, with ambulance staff and volunteers hardest hit.”

Mamo explained the pandemic had put more demand on emergency services forcing them to make life-and- death decisions on a “daily basis”.

The festive season was especially challenging according to East of England Ambulance Service emergency dispatcher Ben Hawkins.

The 22-year-old from Peterborough told Shropshire Star: “Christmas Day was especially bad, it was absolutely heart-breaking.

“For a good few months, it felt like it was just suicide and Covid deaths, all the time.

“Ambulance staff have been fighting a mental health pandemic as well as dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. As well as dealing with traumatic events, we often get abuse on the phone, even death threats.”

Anna Parry, deputy managing director at the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), said: “Healthy ambulance staff are integral to the services we provide to patients, which is why the data emanating from the Mind survey is particularly worrying.

“However, with demand for ambulance services at its highest ever level, alongside the additional unique demands of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is perhaps unsurprising that our frontline staff are experiencing pressures that are impacting upon their mental health and this is something the sector is working hard to mitigate.”

The 999 emergency service was introduced in the UK on 30 June 1937.