New report published on mental health and wellbeing of emergency responders

The mental health of emergency responders (ER) could be improved by better integration of wellbeing support into organisations, sharing of ‘best practice’, a single gateway to help navigate support services, and greater consideration of families’ needs, according to a new report by King’s College London and The Open University researchers.

The report identified a need to better understand several areas of wellbeing in those who respond to emergencies, such as self-harm, suicide, alcohol and substance misuse, sleep, bullying, financial concerns and the positive outcomes of working in this sector.

‘Emergency responders’ (ERs) is a broad category that includes those in traditional ‘blue light’ emergency services and in volunteer organisations such as Mountain Rescue.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the potential mental health impact on people working at the front line in emergency situations and many ERs are directly involved with the current crisis.

Conducted by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) at King’s College London and the Centre for Policing Research and Learning at The Open University, the report collated relevant research conducted prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. The work has been funded by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of the organisation’s ongoing work to support the emergency responder community.

The project aimed to address the lack of collated data on ERs’ mental health and wellbeing through a systematic review of UK, international academic and non-academic literature.

Alongside this, researchers conducted stakeholder interviews, a landscape review of provision of support services, and desktop research to gain insight into the nature and effectiveness of available mental health and wellbeing support for the sector.

For questions related to the research findings, please get in touch with the Principal Researcher Dr Marie-Louise Sharp, Marie-Louise.sharp@kcl.ac.uk