Fire service pledges commitment to end mental health stigma - Cambridgeshire

Fire chiefs have pledged their commitment to ending mental health stigma and discrimination in the emergency services.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service today (February 4) signed the Blue Light Time To Change Associations pledge, which is an initiative led by mental health charity Mind to remove stigma and encourage openness about mental health in the emergency services.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland and Sir Peter Brown, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority Chairman, signed the pledge at Service headquarters and in doing so, promised CFRS will promote a better understanding of mental health problems while offering support and wellbeing advice to its members, staff and volunteers.

CFO Chris Strickland said: "We have developed an action plan in our organisation to communicate the anti-stigma message, deliver wellbeing awareness workshops and improve the support we give to our staff about mental health.

"Some of our staff took part in a Blue Light six-week pilot with Mind last year, which they found to be of real benefit, and we're already engaging in more sessions to give our staff the tools and knowledge to eliminate the stigma and help those around them."

The pledge is a pilot initiative offered on an invitation only basis to a small number of associations and organisations at the national level and CFRS joins others, including Derbyshire Fire & Rescue, Kent Fire and Rescue, Kent Police, Leicestershire Police, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Staffordshire Police, Surrey Police, Sussex Police and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, in signing up.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: "Not only are many of our blue light personnel struggling with their mental health, but they're less likely to seek support or have time off sick than the general workforce. Good mental health should be a priority in any workplace, but it is especially important that people exposed to traumatic or life-threatening situations - such as those working within the police, ambulance, fire and search and rescue services - receive appropriate and timely support.

"We recognise the vital role organisations and associations that support the emergency services can play in promoting mental health and challenging stigma. By signing the Blue Light Associations pledge Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is helping to fight stigma and promote positive mental health for their staff, volunteers, and the emergency services they support."