08 February 2016 - NWAS Signs Up To Support Mental Health In The Workplace Wyn Dignan (Chair), Amanda Ferguson (EMT), Kate Walsh (EMD), Dan Farnworth (EMT), Esmail Rifai (Clinical Safety Officer), Bob Williams (CEO) North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) is committed to promoting better understanding of mental health issues and to end stigma in the workplace after signing up to the national "Blue Light Programme" led by the mental health charity MIND. MIND state that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given year and their independent research showed that the estimated quarter of a million people who work and volunteer in the emergency services are even more at risk of experiencing mental health problems than the general population, but less likely to get support. Chief Executive Bob Williams and Chair Wyn Dignan publically signed the pledge and joined other healthcare and emergency services employers demonstrating the organisation’s support of the programme to tackle mental health discrimination. Bob Williams said: “Ambulance crews, call handlers and support staff do a very demanding job and can be regularly exposed to many stressful and traumatic situations, which can take its toll physically as well as emotionally. “Staff welfare has been high on the agenda for the Trust for some time now, and giving our support to this programme not only aims to keep colleagues and staff supported whilst they are at work, but demonstrates the positive steps being taken towards challenging the stigma of mental health.” The Trust already has a number of staff who are Blue Light Champions and have promoted MIND’s Blue Light Programme with NWAS staff and they were instrumental in getting the pledge signed. By signing up to an action plan under the pledge, the Trust will create a working environment in which staff and volunteers are encouraged to talk freely about any mental health issues they may have, promote a better understanding of mental health, and provide support and wellbeing advice within the service. Part of the programme includes the Blue Light information line which is exclusive to emergency services staff, volunteers and their families. It offers confidential, independent and practical support, advice and signposting around mental health and wellbeing.