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Nine in 10 emergency services workers have experienced mental health problems

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Around nine in 10 (87%) emergency services staff and volunteers have experienced problems with stress, low mood and poor mental health while in service, according to mental health charity Mind.

Mind surveyed 3,500 personnel and found 55% had experienced a mental health problem. This compares to 26% of people in the general population, according to CIPD data.

However, despite emergency services staff being at greater risk of stress and poor mental health, they are less likely to take time off work.

Mind found less than half (43%) of emergency service workers said they have taken time off work due to poor mental health. This compares to 57% of the general workforce.

In response, Mind is launching a campaign – the Blue Light Programme – to support emergency services workers to talk openly about their issues.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: "The programme aims to ensure that the estimated quarter of a million people working and volunteering within police, ambulance, fire, and search and rescue divisions are able to talk openly about their mental health and access the support they need to stay well, recover and continue doing the vital and challenging roles they do serving the community.”

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said such programmes should help drive “parity of esteem between physical and mental health”.

Clegg added: "Emergency service workers save lives every day, helping people in trouble or in need, but we need to support them as they deal with the incredibly stressful and sometimes harrowing situations they face in the line of duty.”

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer welcomed the programme. He said: “Society asks frontline emergency staff to respond to some of the most extreme events in our communities. This can take a toll on their health and having the right support within the workplace makes all the difference.

“Staff health and wellbeing programmes are expanding within the NHS and employers have an important role. Whether it is managers empathising during a personal crisis or innovations to support recovery, the way an organisation plans and responds can be crucial to a person’s recovery.”