Scotland's emergency service workers should get all the mental health support they need – Scotsman comment

No praise is too high for Scotland’s emergency service workers.

'Gallow's humour' is one way of coping with some of the horrific scenes that firefighters can encounter at road accidents and fires, but proper mental health support is required (Picture: John Devlin)
'Gallow's humour' is one way of coping with some of the horrific scenes that firefighters can encounter at road accidents and fires, but proper mental health support is required (Picture: John Devlin)

They include police officers who run towards potentially fatal danger as others flee, firefighters who brave blazing infernos and free motorists trapped and barely alive after a road accident, and paramedics with the skills to bring people back from the brink of death.

They are extraordinary people, but they are just people, not superhumans, and they are “not invincible” as the Lifelines Scotland project points out.

This mental health support service, set up in NHS Lothian in 2016, is now providing online help to all emergency responders, not just volunteers, across the whole of Scotland following extra funding from the Scottish government.

Read More

Read More
New mental health support for emergency service workers across Scotland

Studies have found that emergency workers are more likely to experience mental ill health than the rest of the population, but also less likely to seek help.

John Millar, of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said traditional, informal, coping strategies – such as a cup of tea with colleagues or “gallows humour” – were not enough. He personally benefited from mental health support from the service after the death of his eldest son. “It actually saved my life,” he said.

A wound to our mental health can be healed and it is a tragedy that stigma about this issue has, in the past and still to an extent today, prevented this from happening.

Given what they voluntarily put themselves through on our behalf, Scotland’s emergency services deserve our abiding respect and, when necessary, all the help that they need.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.