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Extent of emergency services staff with PTSD revealed

The scale of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological problems in the emergency services has been revealed in a series of worrying figures.
Grenfell Fire

The scale of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological problems in the emergency services has been revealed in a series of worrying figures.

PTSD999, which was formed early in 2016 specifically to deal with the issue in the emergency services, says it receives up to 80 emails a day from people asking for help and advice.

The charity knows of two police officers who requested help who have since taken their own lives.

Some 25 police officers and firefighters have approached the charity as a direct result of the Grenfell Tower fire, recent terror attacks in London and Manchester and the Croydon tram crash.

Around half contacted the charity themselves, with the rest referred by concerned family and colleagues.

Experiencing trauma

The scale of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological problems in the emergency services has been revealed in a series of worrying figures.


Research suggests nearly 20% of police officers could be experiencing mental trauma
in relation to their job. Picture: PA

PTSD999, which was formed early in 2016 specifically to deal with the issue in the emergency services, says it receives up to 80 emails a day from people asking for help and advice.

The charity knows of two police officers who requested help who have since taken their own lives.

Some 25 police officers and firefighters have approached the charity as a direct result of the Grenfell Tower fire, recent terror attacks in London and Manchester and the Croydon tram crash.

Around half contacted the charity themselves, with the rest referred by concerned family and colleagues.

Experiencing trauma

A further handful have been referred to the charity by the NHS.

PTSD999 cites research suggesting nearly 20% of police officers could be experiencing mental trauma in relation to their job.

Figures obtained by ITV News showed that across 27 police forces, staff took off more than a million sick days over the past three years because of psychological problems.

Steve White, chair of the Police Federation, said a welfare programme run by the federation and the Police Firearms Officers Association, which was set up after a spate of officers took their own lives, has treated more than 700 officers in two years.

Not seeking help

Research by the mental health charity Mind, which runs the Blue Light programme specifically for the emergency services, found nearly nine in 10 staff and volunteers across the emergency services have experienced stress, low mood or poor mental health while performing their role.

One in four said they had contemplated suicide.

Mind’s research also found that 79% of staff in the emergency services would never seek help from HR if they had a mental health problem, which was a particular problem in the police.

‘Incidents such as the horrendous fire at Grenfell Tower bring into sharp focus the hugely challenging and dangerous jobs 999 staff and volunteers carry out on a daily basis to keep the public safe,’ said Faye McGuinness, the Blue Light programme manager at Mind.

Recovery possible

‘Not everyone involved in a traumatic event will develop PTSD – many people recover from terrible experiences without any long-lasting effects.

‘However, if someone does develop PTSD, it can take a long time – sometimes years – for symptoms to emerge.

‘PTSD can be extremely distressing and debilitating, potentially having a huge impact on someone’s day-to-day activities, including their ability to do their jobs.

‘However, recovery is possible, and the sooner people seek help the better.’


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