Mental health and wellbeing strategy for Ambulance Victoria workers

Ambulance Victoria has recently introduced a three-year Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for its staff to address the high risk of burnout, stress, depression and suicide.

The move is a response to the 2015 Victorian Coroners Prevention Unit report that suicide rate among paramedics was around four times higher than the average for all other jobs in Victoria, and almost three times higher than other emergency service workers.

The strategy was developed by Ambulance Victoria with input and feedback from beyondblue. It was informed by Heads Up and the Good Practice framework for mental health and wellbeing in first responder organisations, which was developed by beyondblue in 2016.

“We have a 24-hour support line, and over the past six or so months, calls to that line have tripled,” said Anita Savic, Manager of Psychology Services at Ambulance Victoria.

“People are being more proactive about their mental health and are putting their hand up to the access support, which is really great.

“One of the key changes we’re seeing already is that people are using different language around mental health. They’re able to better identify how they’re feeling and support each other when they’re not travelling well. We’re already seeing shifts in stigma which is remarkable given the short timelines.”

Ms. Savic expressed their strong support to the strategy to improve the mental health of their people.

“Ultimately the reason we’re doing this is that we genuinely care about improving the mental health and wellbeing of our people.”

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