World Mental Health Day: Charity warns 999 worker seeking help for mental ill-health often stigmatised

NHS charity chairman tells GB News: 'Those on the frontline are in incredibly stressful positions of work.'

One of the country’s leading charities has warned that emergency service workers are still experiencing stigma when they seek support for mental ill health.

The Laura Hyde Foundation, who support NHS workers, police officers, firefighters and other frontline workers, have seen calls from those experiencing suicidal thoughts surge by 70% in the past year.

Speaking about the issue during an interview on GB News, the charity’s chairman, Liam Barnes, said: “Those on the frontline are in incredibly stressful positions of work. They see things that the general public don't normally see. But there are other factors as well.

Laura Hyde Foundation Chairman Liam Barnes
Laura Hyde Foundation Chairman Liam Barnes

"We've got a culture certainly in the NHS where there is a fear for some of putting their head above the parapet a little bit. There's a fear of letting colleagues down. There's almost a bullying culture there as well. This often creates a very lonely situation for people and then you've got the cost-of-living crisis growing. This impacts workers because their roles aren’t particularly rarely paid, and it doesn't have the greatest work life balance.

“It's all really starting to become a little bit of a perfect storm and that's causing a huge strain on those frontline staff.

Asked if counselling and support services being offered to those on the frontline was enough, Mr Barnes added: “It's not always the case. We did a proprietary piece of research back in 2021 that asked about 1300 NHS workers, would they ever take up an employee-based service?

Charity warns 999 worker seeking help for mental ill-health often stigmatised
Charity warns 999 worker seeking help for mental ill-health often stigmatised

“It could be the gold standard; it could be the greatest thing out there but over 53% said they would never take it up because they don't want to have the fear of being struck off. They don't want to have the fear of being seen by their colleagues walking into the ‘problem room’. They don't want to fear that they've made the wrong decision by going into a job that's affecting their own personal life. It's many, many different combinations. So yes, there's not enough counselling or support. Absolutely. But there's also a massive stigma of take up."

In a bid to raise awareness, the charity has collaborated on a new video which shines a light on the issue.

“The Feelings” aims to raise awareness of the serious difficulties that medical and emergency workers face, and how this can affect them day-to-day if they don’t seek support.

Each of the characters represents some of the actual feelings that workers from the healthcare frontline have been experiencing, including ‘rising dread’, ‘red rage’, and ‘powerless'.

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIs3OGRtdiQ