If you walk past a lake and see someone has gotten into difficulty in the water, we’re told to throw them a life ring, rather than wade in and risk getting into trouble ourselves. The same can be true for helping a friend, family member or colleague who you can see is struggling with their mental health.

While it can sometimes be enough to simply ask how are they and take the time to listen, from time to time we all need a bit of help from someone completely removed from the situation.

It can be tough asking for help. especially in the blue light community where you’re used to being the rescuer. But being able to ask for help when we need it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for others.

If you know someone who could do with a little bit of extra help with their mental health, here are five life rings you could throw them.

Or if it’s you who is struggling, here are some life rings we can throw to you.

Big White Wall

What is it?
Big White Wall provides online mental health support. It contains a peer support network for you to speak with others, resources for guided learning to give you a different toolkit of coping mechanisms, and the option for live one-to-one therapy sessions with a counsellor over a video call.

What’s good about it?
You can access it online whenever, wherever and however you would like to, being connected to a network of people across the country from the comfort of your own home. You can take as many of the online courses as you like and anonymously speak to someone 24 hours a day about what’s on your mind.

Why does The Fire Fighters Charity work with them?
Everyone’s needs are different and some people prefer to be able to access support while in their communities, rather than come to us. For those beneficiaries whose needs can’t be met at one of our centres, we refer them to Big White Wall to give them another option of finding support for their mental health.

How to access?
If you think this might be something you’d like to access, we can refer you. Give us a ring on 0800 389 8820 and we’ll talk it through with you.

The Fire Fighters Charity’s psychological support

What is it?
During a residential stay at one of our three centres, we take a holistic approach to wellbeing. While staying at either Marine Court in West Sussex, Harcombe House in Devon or Jubilee House in Cumbria we’ll help you look at the whole person, offering psychological support alongside physical activities and workshops designed to improve all aspects of your wellbeing and set you back on the right path.

What’s good about it?
Our dedicated team of psychological specialists understand the unique stresses and pressures that come from working within the fire and rescue service. As well as having one-to-one time with them if you’d like it, you’ll also experience the encouragement and support of your peers who are also staying with us. You can take time out from busy, everyday concerns to focus on yourself without distraction or apology, getting as involved as you’d like to with different activities on offer.

How to access
Just get in contact with us and we’ll start the ball rolling. Give us a ring on 0800 389 8820 or enquire via our website.

Give us a Shout

What is it?
Shout was created by the Royal Foundation to provide a 24-7 crisis text line that you can access at any time, simply by sending a free text.

How does it work?
Just send a text. The video above includes the number for anyone to access its support, but Shout also a dedicated service for emergency service front-line responders. Text BLUELIGHT to 85258 any time day or night to be connected to a trained and supervised Crisis Volunteer. They will listen without judgement and support you through the moment, helping you to articulate the issue, and empowering you  in regards to taking the next steps.

What’s good about it?

As texting is private and silent, it opens up a whole new way to find help. It provides instant support, you can have a conversation anywhere and at any time, whether that’s sitting at your desk, surrounded by people in the mess room, or lying next to your sleeping partner in bed.

Why does The Fire Fighters Charity work with them?
HRH The Duke of Cambridge launched the Bluelight service during his visit to Harcombe House on Emergency Services Day in September. Like us, he is absolutely committed to making sure members of the emergency service community have access to mental health support. As Shout CEO Victoria Hornby says: “Members of our first responder community regularly walk towards traumatic and high stress situations on our behalf and they deserve the very best support for maintaining their mental fitness.”

How to access
Text BLUELIGHT to 85258.

Sapper Support

What is it?
Sapper Support is a registered Charity providing helpline support for veterans and 999 staff experiencing associated mental health illnesses.

What’s good about it?
Its staffed by veterans and 999 personnel, who have first-hand experience of the types of factors that may have contributed to how you’re feeling. Their approach of peer support means people use their own experiences to help each other, and some people find being able to speak to someone with shared experience or challenges can help them move forward. Sapper Support are there to listen, chat and help in a non-judgemental, safe and supportive way.

Why does The Fire Fighters Charity work with them?
The Charity recognises that sometimes when our beneficiaries are experiencing poor mental health that everyone is different and needs something different to help them move forward in their lives.  People who have experienced mental health issues can offer insight and understanding and using their own lived experience as a tool for support, inspiring hope in others that recovery is possible

How to access
Text 07860 018 733 or phone 0800 040 7873 or 0800 040 7783 to speak to someone 24/7.

The Samaritans

What is it?
The Samaritans operate a round-the-clock telephone service run by volunteers who offer a listening ear to anyone in crisis.

What’s good about it?
Every six seconds, they respond to a call for help. No judgement. No pressure.They’re just there for anyone who needs someone. Their confidential, anonymous helpline provides a safe space for you to talk about your feelings. Their approach is non-judgemental; they are not there to tell you what to do, they are there to listen and help you work through what is on your mind.

Why does The Fire Fighters Charity work with them?
The Samaritans are working to ensure fewer people die by suicide, supporting people to help reduce the feelings of distress and crisis that can lead to them making this decision. They can offer immediate support for those who are struggling with difficult feelings and need to talk to someone, even if they are not ready to access other types of support.

How to access
Call them free on 116 123 any time, day or night. You can also visit them in one of their branches, or email jo@samaritans.org for a response within 24 hours.

These are just five of the organisations that support the emergency services community, but there are plenty of others that may also meet your needs. If in doubt, get in touch with us and we’ll work with you to find a solution that best works for you. Give us a ring today on 0800 389 8820 or make an enquiry via our website.

Please remember, If your life is in imminent danger, call 999.

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