criminal justice
health & social care
voluntary sector

Improving Mental Wellbeing Across Blue Light Services

criminal justice

health & social care

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:30

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Central London

This Forum will provide participants with the opportunity to discuss the government’s funding for mental wellbeing initiatives within blue light services and how this will be implemented in practice. Attendees will discuss with policy leaders the next steps for strengthening public sector and community collaboration. In addition, best practice case studies will share guidance for developing innovative initiatives which have successfully been able to access funding and deliver public impact to create thriving communities.


This Forum is specifically designed for those working in blue light services, including police, ambulance and fire & rescue services. It is also aimed at the voluntary and private sector. Typical job titles will include:

  • Area Commanders
  • Blue Light Collaboration Managers
  • Blue Light Strategy Advisors
  • Mental Health Leads
  • Chief Fire Officers
  • Chief Inspectors
  • Chief Superintendents
  • Compliance Managers
  • Detective Inspectors
  • Detective Superintendents
  • District Commanders
  • Emergency Planning Managers
  • Fire Safety Managers
  • Heads of Collaboration
  • Heads of Resilience
  • Heads of Talent
  • Watch Managers
Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Holly Lynch MP, Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Sponsor, Protect the Protectors Bill
  • Ann Millington, Chair of People Committee, National Fire Chiefs Council
  • John Sutherland, Former Borough Commander, Southwark, Metropolitan Police Service and Author, Blue: Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces
  • Che Donald, National Vice-Chair and Lead for Wellbeing, Police Federation
View the agenda and additional speakers

According to Mind, 27% of people working in emergency services have considered taking their own life due to the stress that their work places upon them. Two-thirds of workers in blue lights professions have also considered leaving their role because of poor mental health. According to the same study by Mind, 41% had been prescribed medication to deal with these issues, demonstrating the extent of the issue across emergency services.

In recent times, the government has identified both the personal and economic cost of neglecting the well-being of emergency service personnel. This can be seen with a £15 million sum earmarked for mental health initiatives in policing, ambulance and fire services. Further to this, the Protect the Protectors Bill campaign saw the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act come into effect from September 2018. This was a landmark decision in protecting those in blue services across the UK and served to implement extensive legislation to protect emergency workers from the trauma of assaults directed towards them.

The mental health crisis across blue lights services will continue to cost lives, reduce the quality of emergency services and raise sickness absence time to the overall detriment of UK citizens and those who protect our safety. A collaborative network must be fostered across blue lights services to reduce the stigma around mental health, discuss strategies to deal with traumatic experiences and promote overall mental well-being in stressful environments. If this network can be established, where best-practice is shared and action is driven in a positive direction, then we can begin to overturn these negative trends in the mental health of emergency services workers.


Registration, Breakfast and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Dr Andrew Mayers, Principal Academic in Psychology, Bournemouth University and Governor, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Session: Setting the Scene and Having Your Voice Heard

The day will begin with a 20 minute interactive session, led by the Chair, in which delegates will be able to ask questions, raise their key concerns and inform the Chair of what they would like to discuss during the course of the day.

This will inform debate and direct the conversation throughout the day so that attendees are confident that their most pressing concerns and desired learning objectives will be covered. 


Morning Keynote: Managing the Future of Mental Health in the Emergency Services

  • Reviewing the investigation process into workplace related mental health issues for blue light services
  • Evaluating the need to reduce the impact of absenteeism due to mental health complaints
  • Discussing the implications of the September 2018 Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, which outlines extended legislative protection for emergency workers 
  • Asking whether this bill is just the first step in ensuring that emergency service employees are protected mentally by law and what more needs to be done to successfully protect blue lights workers

Holly Lynch MP, Member for Halifax and Opposition Whip and Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Sponsor, Protect the Protectors Bill (CONFIRMED)


First-Hand Insight: Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces

  • Hear the story of John Sutherland, former Borough Commander for Southwark, who, after 20 years in the Met, fell foul of a crippling breakdown of depression and anxiety
  • John will relay his first account of depression after a glittering career in the emergency services, how he recovered and what he feels is needed in the future, to stop his experience happening to others

John Sutherland, Former Borough Commander, Southwark, Metropolitan Police Service and Author, Blue: Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Morning Break, Refreshments and Networking


Keynote: Driving Forward Mental Health Support Across Fire and Rescue Services

  • Providing a closer look at mental health and well-being policy and whether it fulfils the complex situations experienced by emergency service personnel in fire and rescue services
  • Supporting Mind’s Blue Light mental health activity, with programmes specifically designed for workers within fire services across the UK
  • Encouraging additional NHS support for fire and rescue personnel, such as in family therapy, psycho-education, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), given that 85% of people in fire and rescue services have experienced stress and poor mental health at work
  • Developing local mental health networks for emergency service
    personnel, which have driven partnership discussions across blue light services

Ann Millington, Chair of People Committee, National Fire Chiefs Council (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Creating Safer, Stronger Communities Through a Mentally Resilient Fire Service Team

  • Discussing the Mission of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MF&RS) to achieve ‘Safer Stronger Communities – Safe Effective Firefighters’ and how they look to achieve their mission through investment in people and developing mental health initiatives which are now embedded as ‘normal’ business
  • Looking at how MF&RS recognised the need to create a mentally resilient workforce which in turn will lead to a happier, healthier and more productive workforce
  • Exploring the challenges of implementing this scheme across approximately 1,000 staff employed by MF&RS at 24 Community Fire stations, a Water Rescue station, the Training and Development Academy, their Headquarters and operational workshops
  • Reviewing how a mental health and well-being lead works within the Occupational Health Team and is complemented by input from all of MF&RS representative bodies, who embrace these initiatives and work very effectively towards tackling the stigma attached to mental ill health
  • Achieving aims by providing education, training and support to each member of the service and working in partnership with many stakeholders both internally and externally to benchmark their progress 

Kelly Patterson, Senior Occupational Health Officer and Psychological Therapist, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: The Importance of Well-being Skills & Training Within Ambulance Services

  • Providing a closer look at innovative training practices used by paramedics and within ambulance services to support mental health and well-being
  • Outlining the extensive improvements seen in service and productivity since implementing training changes focusing on mental health
  • Building on the success seen in cognitive therapy peer support to provide a clear strategy that ambulance services can use in the future
  • Disseminating clear applications for mental health training which apply not only to ambulance services but across all emergency services, such as peer and mentor support sessions

 Joanne Mildenhall, Paramedic Researcher (CONFIRMED)


Panel Discussion: Shared Challenges and Opportunities for Collaboration in the Future of Emergency Services Wellbeing

  • Outlining the need for a close working relationship between emergency services
  • Sharing working strategies that can be applied across police, ambulance and fire
  • Finding where there are shared challenges being faced and what the potential solutions to these might be

John Sutherland, Former Borough Commander, Southwark, Metropolitan Police Service and Author, Blue: Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces (CONFIRMED)

Ann Millington, Chair of People Committee, National Fire Chiefs Council (CONFIRMED)

Kelly Patterson, Senior Occupational Health Officer and Psychological Therapist, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (CONFIRMED)

Joanne Mildenhall, Paramedic Researcher (CONFIRMED)



Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: The Case for Being Proactive Towards Mental Health and Wellbeing

  • Providing extensive guidance to ensure police forces have the best preventative advice to ensure they know what to do before serious well-being issues arise
  • Building the next steps to tackle staff sickness and lack of retention due to issues with mental health in the police
  • Giving an overview of the lessons learnt and overcoming challenges with serious reform in the approach to mental well-being across policing
  • Outlining what it means and would require, financially, for blue light leaders to drive forward to necessary change in police well-being

John Apter, Chair, Police Federation (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Beating Stigma and Providing Well-being Support Through a Leading Application

  • Exploring how technology is playing a role in informing frontline workers on the importance of well-being and remaining mentally healthy
  • Releasing an app for officers and staff in the Police Service, which provides practical advice on anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD and more
  • Helping staff to spot the warning signs for mental health issues and directing them, via the app, to pathways (such as local community services) which can provide extensive help
  • Working with police forces across the country to guide them in implementing this application so that it is successfully integrated into the well-being support offered to officers and staff

Garry Botterill, Founder, Backup Buddy and Sergeant, Sussex Police (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Afternoon Break: Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: PTSD - Having an Open Attitude Towards One of the Most Dangerous Concepts Facing Emergency Services Personnel

  • Discussing the concerns associated with PTSD and how damaging it can be for a person’s mental health, including the pathway to suicide
  • Summarising the support currently available for those experiencing PTSD in blue light services, including what can be improved
  • Outlining peer-support strategies for individuals, groups and large organisations to tackle PTSD by understanding the common issues shared between personnel and the wider implications this has for families and friends

Gary Hayes, Founder, PTSD999 (CONFIRMED)

Simon Durance, Founder, PTSD999 (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Supporting Resilience in the Face of Traumatic Experiences

  • Exploring the concept of trauma and the effect it has on those who respond to it, sometimes on a daily basis
  • Sharing the basic concepts of neuroscience and how this can be applied to those working in the emergency services, especially in response to stressful situations
  • Outlining well-researched strategies for emergency service workers to maintain resilience and positive mental health when consistently dealing with trauma and traumatic incidents

Dr Jess Miller, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Cambridge University and Research Fellow, Police Dependant’s Trust (CONFIRMED)


Joint Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*Programme is subject to change

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