Norman praises 'Blue Light Champions' for mental health

Norman Lamb has praised MIND and UNISON for the success of the ‘Blue Light Champions’ project in raising awareness of mental health problems among staff at the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

The North Norfolk MP is also applauding the 70 employees at the trust who have volunteered to become Blue Light Champions, taking action in the workplace to raise the profile of mental health problems in their areas, to challenge mental health stigma, and to undertake training to support colleagues in their role.

MIND has been providing a range of training programmes at the trust, including mental health awareness and stop suicide training.  Training sessions across the region have been funded by UNISON, which has been vital for the success of the scheme to date. 

On Monday night, a report broadcast on BBC Look East (West) Evening News highlighted the work of MIND and the positive impact the Blue Light Champions project is having in emergency services – including police, fire, ambulance, and search and rescue staff. A group of local Blue Light Champions from across the emergency services have also taken part in a training film, as well as a film celebrating the impact of their work.

Mr Lamb will commend all those involved in the project during a House of Commons debate on NHS Pay tomorrow (Wednesday 13th September).

Commenting, Norman Lamb said:

“Frontline staff in our emergency services often have to deal with difficult situations involving people who are experiencing a mental health crisis, but many will also suffer from mental health problems themselves.

“That is why MIND’s initiative to train ‘Blue Light Champions’ is so incredibly important. I’m thrilled that there are now 70 Blue Light Champions at the East of England ambulance service, but we should recognise that this success wouldn’t be possible without the support and funding from UNISON.

“When I met with ambulance staff in North Norfolk last week, I was once again struck by the enormous pressures they are facing on a daily basis.  It makes it even more inspiring to see staff going the extra mile to support their colleagues, by committing to raise awareness of mental health problems and tackle the stigma in the workplace. They deserve our admiration and gratitude.

“It is important that we recognise this fantastic project as well as the need to better support our emergency services staff, which is why I intend to speak in Parliament tomorrow to pay tribute to all those involved.”

Fraer Stevenson, UNISON Branch Secretary, said:

“It’s testament to the caring nature of our staff that 70 ‘champions’ have already come forwards to undergo training, to help support their colleagues and raise awareness of mental health.

“UNISON is very proud to support the MIND blue light programme in the East of England Ambulance Service. Pressures are simply enormous on our staff and it’s vital that support is in place.

“This staff led network of blue light champions provides vital peer support for any staff who are struggling with their own mental health - and it’s important to recognise the work of these staff. The support of our local MIND co-ordinators as well as the staff who have come forwards should be highly commended.”

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