Assessing the mental health and wellbeing of the Emergency Responder community in the UK

Sharp, Marie-Louise; Harrison, Virginia; Solomon, Noa; Fear, Nicola; King, Helen and Pike, Graham (2020). Assessing the mental health and wellbeing of the Emergency Responder community in the UK. Open University and Kings College London, London.



Those working in emergency responder (ER) roles may be at an
increased risk of adverse mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
The ER group, sometimes referred to as ‘First Responders’, is a
broad category that includes those in the traditional ‘blue light’
emergency services and in volunteer organisations, such as Search
and Rescue and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI).
Regardless of the role type, the increased risk to mental health
and wellbeing may be due to the nature of their work, which
involves frequent exposure to potentially distressing situations,
accident scenes, and threats to safety for themselves and others.
These high stress activities may be compounded by intense
workplace stressors, such as excessive workloads, staffing cuts,
unpredictable work, inadequate support and increasing social

Initial scoping work by Mind looked at wellbeing across ERs
and reported a potential elevated risk of psychological issues
compared to the general population, alongside a reluctance to
seek support for their symptoms. However, there is a general
dearth of research in this area. There is a lack of collated data
concerning ERs mental health and wellbeing, and little is known
about the nature and effectiveness of mental health and wellbeing
support that is available to ERs and their families.

This project addresses these concerns by identifying mental
health and wellbeing research (completed and ongoing) across the
emergency services, volunteer roles and their families, through
a systematic review of UK, international and grey literature. In
tandem, a comprehensive landscape review was conducted to
assess the current mental health and wellbeing-related service
provision and practice across the UK through stakeholder
interviews and desktop-based research which investigated
information available on the internet.

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