Improving mental wellbeing of our emergency services

Work undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University to explore how mindfulness programmes can support those working in high-stress environments has been discussed as part of an evidence session at the Westminster.

Sport science officer, Dave Hembrough joined leading healthcare innovators and academics at the hearing today (Thursday 25 October) hosted by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group which discussed evidence on how mindfulness training is supporting those in high-stress or trauma-prevalent public service roles, and explore the opportunities to implement it across emergency and defence services in the UK.

Dave, a strength and conditioning coach in Sheffield Hallam’s Centre for Sport and Exer cise Science (CSES) who also leads the University’s award-winning weight-lifting club, Hallam Barbell, has been running the MindfullySTRONG programme since Dec 2016.

Delivered in partnership with the Centre for Mindful Based Life Enhancement (MBLE) in Sheffield, the integrated mindfulness and physical training sessions have been designed to encourage and support people, to become physically and mentally stronger and healthier.

Dave is now hoping to develop the session as part of a wellness programme for the fire service and other emergency services after the MBLE delivered a mindfulness course for Lincolnshire Police.

“Mindfulness is all about taking a moment to step back and pay attention to your own thoughts, feelings and what’s going on around you which can improve your mental health,” said Dave.

“The MindfullySTRONG programme provides a nurturing exercise experience in a traditional gym environment in an unconventional way using the principles of mindfulness and a classical music soundtrack.

“We know these programmes have been very well received by the police as well as some MPs who have been working with Mindful UK so it makes sense to look at how these can be tailored and implemented into workplace wellness schemes for staff working in intense and potentially traumatic environments.

“Sheffield Hallam already has an outstanding workplace wellness programme and is a national leader in creating innovative and real-world solutions for tackling today’s health and wellbeing challenges. To be invited to this evidence session in Parliament is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the work we’ve done so far which will play an important role in helping to shape and improve the mental wellbeing of, not just our incredible emergency and defence services staff, but the entire nation.”

Sheffield Hallam is the largest provider of health and social care education in England.

With courses covering all aspects of healthcare including: nursing, midwifery, allied health, social care and sport, its curriculum creates the skilled workforce needed to deliver better long-term health outcomes for the nation.

The Mindfulness in Defence, Policing and Emergency Services session also heard from speakers including preeminent researcher Amish Jha, an Associate Professor from Miami University. The session was chaired by Rt. Hon. Sir Desmond Swayne MP and Clive Lewis MP.