Making a stand against mental health
Being a firefighter is a unique, varying and stimulating role, but it also comes with challenges.
Being a first responder to incidents such as fires, road traffic collisions, animal and water rescues, firefighters will often be there to assist in a person’s worst moment, and this is something the Service works hard to support and mitigate.
The Service, through the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team, are responsible for ensuring all staff are provided with comprehensive advice regarding health, safety, welfare and wellbeing matters within the workplace.
This includes the provision of support services like TRiM (Trauma Risk Management), Blue Light Champions, the Service Chaplin, Station Fitness Advisers, and more.
The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team work closely with the Human Resources Team, providing advice regarding the outcomes of Occupational Health referrals concerning both physical and mental health – this enables us to support and enable all individuals to maintain a good overall standard of wellbeing.
The team have been visiting stations to deliver Wellbeing Awareness sessions, discussing support available, and promoting self-care and have an open conversation to help break the stigma around mental health.
There has also been a drive across the Service to provide firefighters with ‘wellbeing spaces’ where firefighters can reflect, discuss and address some of the traumatic incidents they have attended. It is also important for staff to have a space for a restful time out. The design and layout of these areas are staff lead.
And it can be tough. Across the organisation, trained TRiM practitioners have supported staff who have witnessed traumatic incidents that the average person wouldn’t see.
Reactions from each incident (no matter how big or small) can differ from person to person, of any rank or job role, and could also trigger a previous traumatic experience. The signs and symptoms to a traumatic incident may last for days, wells, months and occasionally longer.
As a team, Health, Safety and Wellbeing do an ever-improving job of providing trauma support and day-to-day advice for staff across the organisation - continuing to break down the barriers around mental health stigma.
The focus of the team over the next 12 months is to drive awareness and a preventative approach towards mental health and wellbeing.
In October 2019, the Ask Twice campaign was launched as a platform to encourage open, honest and supportive conversations concerning mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan, due for release in early 2020 outlines the Service’s on-going objectives and commitments to upholding mental health and wellbeing.
And throughout 2020, there will be various events focusing on promoting mental health and wellbeing including tea and talk mornings, management training and awareness days.
The Service has made great strides with mental health and will continue to do so, supporting firefighters as well as our support and control staff, that often go above and beyond to be there is people’s moment of need.