Knowledge Digest


The Emergency Services Foundation Knowledge Digest summarises an eclectic variety of information and research on the theme of mental health and wellbeing of general interest to the sector. It is issued, more or less, at the end of each month to build the evidence-base for improving mental health and wellbeing in Victoria’s emergency services.  

November 2020

This ESF Knowledge Digest condenses the mental health relevant points in the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Lessons to be learned in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019-20. It’s pretty dry reading but also important to know because this inquiry is influencing change in the sector landscape, particularly around the $76 million package for Better Access Bushfire Recovery Telehealth initiative which was announced on 12 January 2020.

October 2020

This digest summarises an article about a leadership development program called ‘Beyond Command and Control: Leadership in Crisis’.  It ran from 2010 by the Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI) and reached approximately 200 senior and emerging leaders.  Though not a mental health program per se, the lessons learned have implications for our pilot program.  I also thought it worth sharing because of the honesty and depth of the authors’ reflections on what is needed to support responsive, enabling and responsible leadership.

September 2020

This Digest gives and overview of MIND Blue Light, a wellbeing and mental health program that ran across the UK for emergency responders (ERs).  It is interesting for its longevity (2015-2019), its nation-wide reach and diversity of activities.  I have peppered this digest with links, to aid you in accessing information about any activity that sparks your interest.

August 2020

This Digest summarises literature on:
  • Understanding responses to COVID as grief (Kirsten Weir)
  • Styles of coping given your ‘surge capacity’ (Tara Haelle)
  • How life in the time of COVID impacts mental health (David Forbes)

July 2020

This Digest summarises the key findings and recommendations of a major new study from the UK on emergency responder (their preferred term) mental health and wellbeing.  It has strong overlaps with findings from ‘Answering the Call’ (Beyond Blue 2018) and ESF are currently planning for or progressing many of the recommendations proposed in this UK-based research.

June 2020

This Digest summarises an article that identifies nine barriers to the mental health of frontline (Australian paramedic) workers from three angles: the views of managers; workplaces; and the employee.  It is of critical relevance to the pilot we will be progressing together through the Learning Network.

June 2020

This Digest summarises information from select resources about:
  • vicarious trauma / compassion fatigue
  • trauma-informed design

May 2020

This Digest shares a summary of issue-specific information and advice for managing mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 in relation to
  • Zoom Fatigue
  • Coping with uncertainty
  • Emotional fatigue
  • Working from home
  • Taking care of yourself
  • Life after COVID-19

May 2020

This digest shares a summary of role-specific information and advice for managing mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 in relation to being a:
  • frontline worker
  • parent of young children
  • people leader

April 2020

There is an abundance of resources that provide guidance, advice and tools to help manage mental health at this time of COVID-19. This digest:
  • Summarises what the experts are saying to stay safe and sane
  • Provides and overview of websites with COVID-19 related resources

February 2020

This Digest summarises the more interesting findings from my search of leadership best practice. Namely, about:
  • The ‘Leader-Leader model’ – a highly innovative approach to decentring leadership power – as developed and enacted by a Captain on a nuclear submarine during war
  • A four-night retreat that is a resilience program for first responders – from Canada
  • An academic review article on key tasks for best-practice leadership for mental health
  • Summaries of some evidence about the effectiveness (or rather, lack of) of mental health training

December 2019

This Digest summarises trends and the latest research ideas about leadership for mental health