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November 26, 2021

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Mental Health

The Duke of Cambridge launches new mental health initiative for emergency responders

Prince William has given a speech to 200 front line workers at The Royal Foundation’s Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium, hosted on Thursday 25 November, opening up about his time in the emergency services, and highlighting the growing need to prioritise the mental health of emergency workers. 

Image source: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Twitter

Within his speech, The Duke of Cambridge spoke of his time working for RAF Search and Rescue and the East Anglia Air Ambulance. He recalls, “I remember the pressure of attending calls in the most stressful conditions, sometimes with tragic conclusions.”

He continues, “I also remember returning home with the stresses and strains of the day weighing on my mind, and wanting to avoid burdening my family with what I had seen.”

The conference hosted senior leaders from emergency services across all four nations for the first time, bringing them together to address the need to better look after the mental health of the crucial workforces.

During the event, Prince William launched MIND’s ‘Blue Light Together’, a collaborative project, designed to help people working and volunteering in the emergency services, retirees and their friends and family, to find the right kind of support for their mental health.

The Mental Health at Work Commitment for The Emergency Services, formed as part of the initiative, means that every emergency service organisation in the UK will:     

  • Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity  
  • Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes  
  • Promote an open culture around mental health 
  • Increase organisational confidence and capability  
  • Provide mental health tools and support 
  • Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting.  

The Duke says the project is an, “unprecedented agreement and it sends a powerful message to all emergency responders that mental health is, and will remain, a firm priority for the UK’s emergency services.”

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, also gave a speech, referencing MIND’s, Blue Light Report, stating that it, “reveals just how stark the impact (of COVID) has been, and how almost seven in 10 emergency responders feel that their mental health has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic.”

Dr John Chaterjee, Consultant at London’s Air Ambulance Charity, took part in a panel discussion during the course of the event alongside other industry professionals.

He argues, “You put this uniform on – mine is particularly bright – and it feels like a suit of armour. There are things I do in this uniform that I would never do in my jeans.

“I think the most important thing is opening this suit of armour and letting people see that we’re all human beings and we all suffer.”

To access MIND’s guide for wellbeing leads in the emergency services, click here. 

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