One in four 999 workers have thought about suicide, more than the national average of 1 in 5, according to a survey in 2016 by Mind, and a recent study showed 39% of Ambulance staff suffer from PTSD.
A new charity has been set up to try and reduce these alarming statistics.
The Blue Light Symphony Orchestra (BLSO) aims to promote music-making in the emergency services. It is the brainchild of serving detective Seb Valentine, a graduate of the Royal College of Music who has joined forces with composer Matthew Slater to share the therapeutic power of music with fellow first responders across the country.
The charity will offer start-up grants for new blue light music groups and make music therapy available to help treat conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress.
The BLSO is tailored to the needs of blue light workers, providing a unique opportunity to make music with colleagues who have a shared experience. This has already attracted players from as far as Merseyside to travel to London and participate. Playing music allows them to express and process their emotions after dealing with trauma on a daily basis.
Music therapy has been hugely successful in treating PTSD in the military but is rarely used elsewhere. The BLSO will work with leading music therapy providers to make it available to first responders who could benefit.
Future plans include a competition to find the most talented musician in the 999 services and commissioning new music, themed around PTSD.
“I am hugely excited to launch this charity which combines my lifelong love of music with supporting my colleagues’ wellbeing,” said Seb Valentine, founder, CEO and musical director. “Playing music is completely immersive and one of the few ways I can clear my mind and reset.”