National Mental Health and Wellbeing Study of Police and Emergency Services

Beyond Blue undertook the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Study of Police and Emergency Services to build a comprehensive picture of the mental health and wellbeing of police and emergency services personnel in Australia.

The three-phase study provided important national baseline measures about the issues affecting the mental health of police and emergency services personnel. It also supported police and emergency services agencies to translate these findings into their existing or new mental health and wellbeing approaches.

Completion of the third and final phase

The third and final phase of the Study was completed in 2020. A summary report National Mental Health and Wellbeing Study of Police and Emergency Services (2016-2020) was released in December 2020 and provides an overview of the knowledge-to-action process undertaken across the three phases of the study. It can be downloaded below.  

This report is complemented by a revised Good Practice Framework, also published in December 2020. The framework, informed and updated with knowledge gained through the three-phase study, provides practical, evidence-informed guidance for implementing mental health and wellbeing approaches and can be used by police and emergency services agencies to develop or renew the mental health strategy in place for their organisation. It can also be downloaded below.  

More about the three-phase research study

The three key phases of the research study were:

  • Phase 1 was a qualitative project gathering the personal mental health experiences of 25 current and 10 former employees of police and emergency services, and of 12 of their partners and family members. Key themes about the range of mental health experiences and the risk and protective factors faced by participants emerged from this study. The findings of Phase 1 heavily informed the development of the survey tool for Phase 2.This phase was undertaken by Whereto Research and completed in November 2016.

  • Phase 2 involved the first nationally representative survey of police and emergency services personnel in Australia – Answering the call. Beyond Blue engaged The University of Western Australia who partnered with Roy Morgan Research to undertake this phase. The results from this national survey are now below.

  • Phase 3 was a collaborative knowledge-to-action project where police and emergency services agencies were supported to translate the evidence identified by Phases 1 and 2 of the research to promote wellbeing and mental health, support those affected by poor mental health and prevent suicide (see report above).

The study was funded by Beyond Blue's core Commonwealth Government funding, with additional funding support for Phase 2 from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

An Advisory Group was formed to provide strategic guidance for the research study and ensure it was informed by the diversity and depth of expertise in the police and emergency services sector. The group was chaired by Ken Lay AO APM, Chairman of Ambulance Victoria and former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, and included senior leaders and representatives from agencies, unions and community groups, clinicians and academics, a former police officer and family member of an emergency services employee.

Answering the call – national survey findings

Answering the call is the first national survey of the mental health and wellbeing of personnel in the police and emergency services. It was conducted between October 2017 and March 2018 and the results were released in November 2018.

Beyond Blue worked together with police and emergency services agencies, peak bodies, unions and other key groups on this landmark, national survey to provide a detailed picture of the issues affecting the mental health and wellbeing of employees, former employees, and volunteers.

In total, 21,014 police and emergency services volunteers and current and former employees across a range of roles, ranks and locations participated in the survey.

The national survey findings reflect the collective voices of the 21,014 individuals who shared their information with us and made this evidence possible. The results reveal a workforce that is deeply impacted, both by the nature of the work that they do, and the pressures of the environments in which they work. These results compel action. They require a dedicated and collective effort to ensure that we strengthen our approach to protecting those who protect us – to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Download the Answering the call national survey reports:

Executive summary [download PDF)

Final report [download PDF)

Detailed report [download PDF)

Watch the Answering the call key findings webinar

Watch the Answering the call key findings webinar on our Heads Up website

Download the Answering the call national survey questionnaires:

Employee questionnaire (download PDF)

Volunteer questionnaire [download PDF]

Former employee questionnaire [download PDF]


The Beyond Blue Police and Emergency Services Program is managed by the Workplace and Workforce team at Beyond Blue. For further information please contact us.

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