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Fire Service sign up to mental health anti-stigma pledge

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Last Tuesday (26th January), Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) joined over 300 emergency service employers in England in signing up to the Blue Light Time to Change Pledge, in support of Time to Talk Day, which is taking place today (4th February). The pledge aims to put an end to mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

A staggering one in four individuals in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Yet, independent research indicates that an estimated quarter of a million individuals who work or volunteer for the emergency services are more likely to experience a mental health problem, but are less likely to receive support.

By signing the Blue Light Time to Talk Pledge, the organisation aims to encourage staff to feel able to speak openly about mental health and seek support when they need it. Furthermore, HWFRS want to help improve mental health awareness within the Service, which will better enable staff and volunteers to look out for themselves, their team and members of the public.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Hodges, who signed the pledge, said: "There are occasions that firefighters can find themselves confronted with some traumatic situations and the impact that these situations can have on their mental health should not be underestimated."

He continued: "By signing the pledge, we want to break the stigma that is often associated with mental health and encourage people to speak out."

As part of raising awareness of mental health issues, the organisation has arranged half day workshops for managers which focus on how to manage mental health within the workplace. Furthermore, the Service already provides an array of mental health support including:

  • A staff counseling service
  • The Critical Incident Support Team who are trained to run confidential stress debriefing sessions following any traumatic incident.
  • The Mediation and Listening Ear Service which supports and signposts staff to more specialist advice.

Issued by:
Jessica Chadwick
Corporate Communications Manager
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service
Tel: 01905 368 319