Verbal are collaborating with the Northern Ireland Public Health Research Network (NIPHRN) and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS). This collaboration will explore the potential of a Shared Reading initiative to improve wellbeing, promote resilience, and reduce workplace stress in emergency and non-emergency ambulance control room staff.

This project addresses the current crisis in mental healthcare in Northern Ireland (NI) and has implications for the provision of non-pharmaceutical interventions for workplace stress across the UK. In NI, one in five adults have experienced problems with their mental health, a rate that is 25% higher than the United Kingdom (Mental Health Foundation, 2022). Yet investment in health in NI is significantly below that of the rest of the UK, leading to underfunded mental health services and longer waiting times. These deficits can impact healthcare workers who provide support to others but may experience long waits to avail of support themselves. The greater risk of poor mental health and long waiting lists in NI emphasises the need for low-cost, scalable interventions to mitigate the risks posed.

This project will design and test a low-cost arts-based intervention which has been shown to be effective at improving mental health and wellbeing in a variety of groups and will test whether it is effective at improving wellbeing, increasing resilience, and reducing work strain for NIAS control room staff.