Australia: The first comprehensive mental health strategy for an Australian ambulance services was launched on World Health Day 2016.
Ambulance Victoria (AV) Paramedics and their families helped create the strategy and shared their experiences and insights into the mental health and wellbeing.
Ambulance Victoria Chair Ken Lay and CEO Tony Walker were among those to take a ‘mental health pledge’ to launch the AV Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2016-2019 on Monday 10 October 2016.
The strategy follows an Australian emergency services sector conference earlier in the year hosted by Beyond Blue. A recent Coroner’s study had found that Paramedic were about four times more likely to commit suicide than other Victorians.
Victoria Police has also been tackling mental health issues among members after a number of service related suicides. Both services appear to be making important advances in taking care of their employees that may struggle with PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicidial thoughts and other mental health issues.
In many cases, the extraordinary pressures of emergency services work can be very taxing on service personnel. Last month, a Police Association initiative to create an App was launched for past and present Victorian Police. The App is designed to be available 24/7 and at any location an Officer needs it.
The AV Mental Health Strategy:
Associate Professor Walker said the roadmap for improving mental health and wellbeing had been developed through extensive research and in consultation with paramedics and other Ambulance Victoria staff, family members, the Ambulance Employees Association Victoria and stakeholders including beyondblue.
‘We’re proud to be the first ambulance service in Australia to deliver a strategy in this form to create a mentally healthy workplace,’ Assoc. Prof Walker said.
‘We are committed to providing a workplace that fosters the mental and physical health of our people to keep them fit and well for work, and life.
‘As one of our senior paramedics simply put it, if we don’t care for ourselves, we can’t care for others.’
- Understand the mental health and wellbeingneeds of our people.
- Promote mental health at all levels of AV.
- Deliver comprehensive mental health interventions and training throughout the employee life cycle.
- Strengthen our mental health and wellbeing partnerships.
‘All Ambulance Victoria staff and volunteers will be trained in mental health awareness by June 2017 as part of a unique partnership with beyondblue,’ Assoc. Prof Walker said.
‘We all have a role to play in creating a mentally healthy workplace and I look forward to working with everyone at Ambulance Victoria make this a reality.
‘We owe it to ourselves, our families and colleagues, and the community we serve.
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Australian 24/7 Crisis Services: