Paramedic speaks at The Royal Foundation's Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium

Paramedic speaks at The Royal Foundation’s Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium

Roger speaking on stage at The Royal Foundation

A senior East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) paramedic has bravely shared his battle with mental illness at a national event in London hosted by The Royal Foundation.

Roger Watson, Paramedic and Deputy Director of Clinical Quality at EMAS, represented the UK ambulance services at the Emergency Mental Health Symposium hosted by His Royal Highness Prince William on Thursday, 25 November.

As part of the event, a public pledge has been signed by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, The Chief Officers of the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Fire Chiefs Council, to signal their commitment to a uniform approach to supporting the mental health of their emergency responder workforce.

Roger appeared on a panel alongside colleagues from the fire, police and air ambulance services, who were interviewed by Nick Knowles both about their personal experiences, but also about the steps being taken within the emergency services to prevent mental ill health.

Roger said: “It was an honour to be chosen to speak at the Symposium today to raise awareness of the importance of mental health support in the emergency services, and to have the chance to meet His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge as well as senior blue light colleagues.

“By sharing my own story, I hope it will help ambulance staff to know that experiencing mental health struggles is nothing to be ashamed of, and that they should feel confident in speaking up so they can receive the support they need to get them back to a better place.

“I am proof that having mental health challenges will not prevent development in your career – I have still been able to progress and achieve my aims.”

Roger speaking into a microphone

Roger was joined on the panel by Martin Blunden, Chief Officer of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Una Jennings, Assistant Chief Constable at Cheshire Constabulary, and Dr John Chatterjee from London’s Air Ambulance.

In addition to a speech by the Duke of Cambridge, the symposium included speeches from The Duke of Cambridge, Secretary of State for Health Sajid Javid, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and MIND Chief Executive Paul Farmer.

The full symposium can be viewed via The Royal Foundation YouTube channel.

The Mental Health at Work Commitment for The Emergency Services means that every emergency service organisation in the UK will:

• Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity

• Proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes

• Promote an open culture around mental health

• Increase organisational confidence and capability

• Provide mental health tools and support

• Increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting

During his speech, the Duke of Cambridge said: “This is an unprecedented agreement, and it sends a powerful message to all emergency responders that mental health is, and will remain, a firm priority for the UK’s emergency services.

Kerry and other senior leaders on stage

“It means that, for the first time, a uniform set of standards for supporting the mental health of emergency responders will be adopted and integrated into their workplaces.

“This is a crucial step in ensuring that the staff and volunteers who work so tirelessly for our nation can be properly protected.”

New national resources were also announced as part of the Symposium, including the Blue Light Together’ resource and a Blue Light Together Network of Emergency Services Therapists, a directory of therapists registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) who specialise in addressing the complex mental health needs of emergency responders and will be made available to all those in need of support.