People in police and emergency service roles, which include police, paramedics, State Emergency Service workers and firefighters provide care and protection to the Australian community. Sadly, the levels of anxiety, depression and suicide among this group of people are too high and seem to be growing.
Not only do police and emergency services workers routinely face ‘life and death’ challenges, they witness very distressing situations and experience the same types of workplace stress and conflict as employees in other occupations. There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that police and emergency service workers who retire or leave the job may have high rates of anxiety, depression and suicide.
In 2014, beyondblue established the Police and Emergency Services Program to promote the mental health of police and emergency service workers and reduce their risk of suicide. The Program is for current and former/retired workers, volunteers and their families.
The objectives of the Police and Emergency Services Program are to:
- Reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions, attempted suicide and suicide among police and emergency service workers
- Increase the number of police and emergency service workers taking action to manage their mental health and support colleagues they may be concerned about
- Increase the number and capability of police and emergency services organisations taking action to create mentally healthy workplaces.
The Good Practice Framework
In collaboration with a range of Australian agencies and experts, beyondblue has developed the Good practice framework for mental health and wellbeing in first responder organisations. The Framework provides information about the range of programs and practices required to effectively promote the mental health of police and emergency services workers and reduce suicide risk. It is intended to be used as a practical guide by police and emergency services agencies to develop or renew the mental health strategy in place for their organisation.