Mental Health and Wellbeing Support in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
149. The SFRS launched its Mental Health Strategy in 2019 with the aim of ensuring that mental health and wellbeing was treated the same as physical health. The Service has sought to put in place a positive culture where mental health is destigmatised, and personnel feel valued, supported and able to seek help should they need it.
150. We are happy to conclude that there is a positive cultural change underway in the way mental health and wellbeing is viewed by Service staff. There is also a similar picture to report in terms of the level of diminished stigma which is attached to mental health and seeking help to address any challenges personnel may have in this regard. The journey that the SFRS began in 2019 to have mental health viewed in the same way as physical health, and to remove any stigma associated with it, remains ongoing. There appears to be a societal shift in the way that mental health is viewed, and we conclude that this as well as the work that the SFRS has been engaged in has produced the outcomes it has achieved to date.
151. Since 2019, and through the life of this current strategy, the SFRS has achieved many notable successes. They compare well to other UK Fire Services and have put in place a comprehensive mental health offer for all their employees. The strategy produced for the years 2020 to 2023 was rightly ambitious as the Service demonstrated its commitment to staff. However, some of the elements contained within the strategy remain unfulfilled, while other elements have yet to produce the maximum benefit that can be derived from them. We have set out the areas of work that the Service has embedded into Business as Usual within this report, we also note instances of how this BAU could be elevated to exemplar level with excellent outcomes achieved for both the Service and its personnel as a result. Like many areas of work for the SFRS, the allocation of resources that are required to achieve outcomes has been and remains a challenge. We would urge a strong focus on achievable and well thought through plans that align to the future strategy and the resources that are necessary to produce positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
152. The mental health and wellness journey that the SFRS began in 2019 has produced many positive outcomes, but that journey continues.