Like many of the blue light services our crew can also, at times, be exposed to difficult situations and experiences. This may be especially so when assisting police in the location of a missing person who is found deceased.
The reasons people go missing are varied but common causal factors amongst missing people include dementia-related conditions, substance abuse, despondency, mental ill health and suicidal intentions. Research has shown that between 30 and 80% of people may be experiencing mental health problems with depression and anxiety as the most reported conditions. One third of the returned adults interviewed in a recent study of missing people reported that they had tried to take their own life whilst missing (www.missingpeople.org.uk). This research, as well as our own experiences helps us understand that in many cases Search and Rescue services (like ours) are looking for very vulnerable high risk adults.
The mental health wellness of our volunteers in the work they do is an absolute priority for our service. MIND's research shows that an estimated quarter of a million people who work and volunteer in the emergency services are even more at risk of experiencing mental health problems than the general population, but are less likely to seek support.
To help combat the stigma associated with asking for help with mental health problems our Search Managers and Team Leaders attended a training session delivered by the North Staffs MIND Charity as part of their National Blue Light Scheme for Emergency Services.
The three-hour session, targeted at managers and supervisors, consisted of general mental health awareness and more specific issues pertinent to the experiences of Search and Rescue personnel.
The training provided our leaders with a positive approach to promoting mental wellness. Participants gained greater knowledge and understanding to better support our crew. Importantly it gave them an opportunity to share their own issues, concerns and experiences with each other.
MIND Website Information below www.org.uk
Need advice on your mental health or wellbeing? Call, email or text MIND's Blue Light Infoline; just for emergency service staff, volunteers and their families. They can provide independent and confidential support, advice and signposting.
- 0300 303 5999 (local rates)
- Text: 84999