Department of Health and Social Care
Health Secretary Emergency Service Mental Health Symposium speech
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid gave a speech at The Royal Foundation’s Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium
Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen I’m honoured to be here at this hugely important event which shines a spotlight on a vital issue. I would like to pay tribute to you Sir, and to everyone else, for the commitment you have shown to this cause.
Our emergency services, they represent the best of us, running towards danger when most of us run away.
I’m honoured to have had the privilege of working closely with three of our emergency services.
The ambulance service in my current role as Health Secretary and, also of course, the police and fire service when I served as Home Secretary.
I’ve always found it humbling to see the extraordinary lengths that they go to keep us all safe.
And not only did I see this through my work at the Home Office and as Health Secretary, I saw it in my own home too.
As some of you will know, my younger brother Bas is a police officer, serving for the last 27 years.
One of the proudest moments of my life was going to his graduation as a senior police officer.
But its been hard to hear from my older brother about some of the experiences that he and his colleagues have endured whilst they’re doing their jobs trying to keep us all safe.
Of course, it certainly takes a physical toll and my brother has had all manner of bruises and cuts to show but we don’t talk often enough about the mental toll.
It’s a tough job even in normal times, but it’s been even tougher during the pandemic.
Dealing with the greater demand that a public health emergency brings while unable to do many of the things that would normally bring us joy, like seeing our loved ones.
MIND’s illuminating report, the Blue Light Report, reveals just how stark this impact has been and how almost 7 in 10 emergency responders feel that their mental health has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic.
This is hugely concerning.
And we’re doing everything in our power to strengthen our support for those colleagues that are on the frontline.
We’ve set up, for example, 40 mental health and wellbeing hubs for NHS staff, making sure that they have rapid access to mental health services and we’ve introduced helplines and a 24/7 text service exclusively for staff.
I also want to do more to recognise our emergency services, and the essential work that they do.
When I was Home Secretary, I launched something called the Police Covenant, a pledge to do more as a nation to recognise those who serve this country and a few weeks ago, I announced how I want to establish a NHS Covenant too so we can give even more support to those who work in our NHS.
Although the pandemic has been arduous for our nation’s health, it’s also, in some ways, been a time when we’ve seen some change for good with, I think, more people feeling able to talk openly about their mental health including of course, members of our Royal Family. Something we just saw now, on the panel.
These, of course, are very positive developments. And we must build on this momentum.
I was pleased to see that MIND’s report showed that when compared to 2015 double the amount of emergency responders say they feel able to talk openly about their mental health issues or challenges at work and that the vast majority of people who did come forward for the support, they found it helpful.
There’s so much good work that is taking place already, right across our emergency services.
And today’s event provides a valuable opportunity to learn from one another and from what’s been successful in our different emergency services.
So I’d like to thank all the charity partners who’ve been involved in today’s Symposium and especially MIND for the work that they do to raise awareness of this vital issue.
Our emergency services have been there for us all throughout this crisis.
And as we recover, I, and the government, are determined to be there for them too and to put mental and physical health on an equal footing at last.
Thank you all very much.
Latest News from
Department of Health and Social Care
Government eases social care restrictions after booster success28/01/2022 10:10:10
Restrictions in place to prevent the spread of Omicron in adult social care will be eased following the success of the booster roll out.
England returns to Plan A as regulations on face coverings and COVID Passes change today27/01/2022 16:10:00
From today and because of the success of the booster rollout, all measures under Plan B have been lifted.
Over 5,000 people enrolled in UK-wide study for antivirals27/01/2022 13:38:00
Over 5,000 people have now enrolled in a world-class study for COVID-19 antivirals, meaning thousands of people have accessed the medicines.
New reforms to make consultant awards fairer and more accessible27/01/2022 11:20:00
The government is reforming the National Clinical Excellence Awards for high performing NHS senior doctors to be more inclusive and accessible.
Public urged to sign-up to world-first COVID-19 antiviral study25/01/2022 12:25:00
The public are being urged to sign-up to a world-leading study for antivirals if they test positive for COVID-19
UK open for travel with all restrictions removed for eligible vaccinated arrivals25/01/2022 11:27:00
Changes to COVID-19 testing measures for travellers arriving in the UK from 4am 11 February.
More support for schools and students as plan B comes to an end24/01/2022 13:12:00
£8 million from NHS England to support secondary schools with the in-school vaccination programme.
England to return to Plan A following the success of the booster programme21/01/2022 10:10:10
Plan B measures will be removed following millions getting the booster, which gives strong protection against Omicron