A group of frontline London paramedics have taken on Movember to improve awareness and fundraise for male mental health issues.
The 14 advanced critical care paramedics, also known as APPS, have raised more than £4000 after dealing with rising numbers of suicide call outs.
The ‘tashes come after a challenging year for the APPS team with some facing their own mental health issues, but doing Movember together has helped raise spirits.
Michael Casizzi, 40, the paramedic who organised the Movember month with colleagues, said: “The ambulance service is going through a really tough time, I think we’re feeling the strain.
“The pressure is constant and the normal stress release isn’t there. It isn’t about drinking, but it’s about socialising and talking.
“Movember has given us something that we can talk and laugh about.”
Casizzi has been a paramedic since 2008 and is one of only 34 advanced critical care specialists in London who are often the first responders to suicide cases.
He said: “As a group, unfortunately, we are targeted to high acuity calls and we’ve seen an increase in suicides as a team, especially in the male population.
“Life has become harder for a lot of people, especially under the current climate.
“So we thought it was a good time to put our efforts towards something to help.”
As well as responding to suicide cases, the APPS were also heavily involved in dealing with COVID patients.
During the first wave in London they saw a massive increase in workload.
Casizzi said: “We went into some really sad cases, and it was just constant.
“Constantly in full body Tyvek suits, FFP masks, glasses all day. We were dealing with just a stream of very, very sick people and a lot of death.
“I think we’re only realising now how hard it was. We really don’t want to go there again, where we were in March and April. It was draining.”
The APPS team have received a lot of support from across the ambulance service, including donations from call takers, technicians and other paramedics.
Casizzi said: “The rest of the ambulance service has been phenomenal, and also from a lot of people’s family and friends.
“It’s cool and I think it’s shown solidarity.”
See their Movember page HERE