Summary of report content
Healthwatch Essex interviewed 72 frontline staff, including Essex police, hospital staff, and ambulance service staff, specifically around coping with mental health.
The report found that a number of factors impacted on front line staff's working life, such as traumatic events and fatalities. The working environment, and the lack of resources within it, was another cause of much stress. Frontline staff develop a range of coping mechanisms, such as the strategic mask they wear at work, to hide their struggles, developing a work-life balance that supports the challenges of the job and the negative impact of organisational sickness policies. Although some training is being carried out, there are gaps in what is offered and concerns with management is also highlighted in this section. Even when support was available, there were often barriers to accessing this, either due to stigma or attitude of management or fear felt by the individual that their referral or concern would not be kept confidential.
Healthwatch Essex made a number of recommendations relating to mental health first aid, refreshment breaks, external support, training days and occupational health.