World first sees Emergency Workers get in sync to aid mental health
The Blue Light Symphony Orchestra (BLSO), in collaboration with Chroma, has started delivering Music Therapy to 3 groups of emergency workers in a ground breaking project to help them recover from traumatic experiences.
Last year, BLSO was awarded £10,000 funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, to pay for group Music Therapy sessions for frontline men and women from the Police, Ambulance and Fire services in Surrey and Sussex.
During the 12-week pilot program, one-hour group therapy sessions will offer improvised musical experiences and verbal reflection on those experiences, active drumming with entrained rhythm, leading and following and music to support mindfulness and grounding techniques.
Sessions will be based in police buildings for ease of access and as these sessions are Lottery funded, there is zero cost to emergency workers.
The charity Mind Blue Light Covid-19 Response Report 2021 found that 69% of emergency responders felt their mental health has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic. More exposure to traumatic events was cited as key reasons why mental health has gotten worse throughout the pandemic.
Many also felt like their workload has become relentless and some line managers said that they are struggling to support their staff on top of all their other responsibilities.
Studies have shown music therapy, can be highly effective in helping individuals to self-regulate through difficult emotional states and restore social relationships by fostering feelings of belonging.
Dan Gillard, head of Occupational Health for Surrey and Sussex Police, Surrey and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “Music Therapy can help individuals recover from traumatic experiences. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Chroma and the Blue Light Symphony Orchestra to offer music therapy to our emergency personnel.
“This is the first time in the UK that music therapy has been offered to groups consisting of only emergency workers and it is hoped that this will encourage emergency workers, who experience a unique set of traumas and stressors, to seek help because it provides a safe environment with others with a shared experience.”
Seb Valentine, founder of the BLSO and serving Detective Sergeant with Surrey Police commented: “It has been my personal vision to provide Music Therapy to my colleagues across the emergency services who were already facing increasing pressures on their mental health before the Covid-19 pandemic and have now been on the frontline of the response to it for over a year.
“As lockdown eases, demands on us will only increase and I am concerned that we will see a rise in mental health problems as we move into this new phase and people start to try and process the trauma of the last 12 months. It is vital that those who have sacrificed so much to keep the nation safe have access to diverse and timely mental health support and I am delighted that Blues and Tunes can be part of the menu of options available to them.”
Daniel Thomas, managing director of Chroma added: “Collaborating with the BLSO and Surrey Police over the last 12 months has been fantastic, and the team at Chroma are really looking forward to starting the UK’s first music therapy group for emergency workers who have PTSD-like symptoms as a result of the life-saving work they do.
“Using music as a treatment modality for PTSD and trauma-related issues is commonplace in countries such as the USA, especially with military personnel; I hope that this project marks the start of its use in the UK for 999 emergency workers and military personnel.”