It is more common to think of the physical dangers firefighters face than the emotional or mental challenges. Firefighters find themselves under extreme levels of stress to protect others. Firefighters, just like every else, need to take care of their mental health so they can be at their best on the job.
Firefighter mental health resources can be very valuable – both with fighting the mental health stigma and helping firefighters get the support they need.
This International Firefighters Day, take some time to appreciate our firefighters and those that gave their lives to protect others. If you’re a firefighter yourself, get some insight into how you can take care of your own mental health.
Fighting the Mental Health Stigma
Firefighters often do not seek mental health support due to the stigma around mental health. It can be hard to talk about with peers, especially in an environment that often encourages suppressing emotions. Some firefighters have trouble acknowledging that they are struggling at all – making it even more difficult to get help.
You can fight the mental health stigma by speaking up about your own mental health. You might be surprised at how many people understand!
Struggling with mental health is not a weakness – it is human. Talking about it takes strength.
Firefighters could benefit by coming together to talk about their mental health struggles – especially if those struggles stem from shared experiences on the job.
Firefighters may benefit from talking to a therapist that understands the challenges emergency personnel face.
Check out problem-based coping techniques for ways to support mental health. Try talking about some of these techniques with your team.
Common Mental Health Challenges Firefighters Face
Common firefighter mental health struggles include:
- Substance abuse
- Relationship issues
Many fire stations have a culture of heavy drinking, increasing the risk of substance abuse disorders. The high amount of stress and potential trauma involved in their everyday jobs greatly increases their risk of anxiety, PTSD, and depression – making it harder to have healthy relationships with others.
Disturbed sleep schedules also increase firefighters’ risk of mental health issues.
Among volunteer firefighters, structural barriers to care are partially to blame for increases in depression among firefighters. Structural barriers to care include the cost of mental health care, transportation issues, and therapist availability.
Removing these barriers to care – along with having an open dialogue about mental health – are key to getting firefighters the help they need.
For more information on barriers to mental health care and how to overcome them, download the Zenovate Manager Training Handbook!
Firefighter Mental Health Resources to Use
Firefighter mental health resources can make all the difference.
The Share the Load Program provides many resources to help support firefighter mental health, including webinars, videos, articles, and a directory to help connect firefighters to the mental health resources they need.
The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance aims to connect firefighters to the help they need as well.
Stations can also consider providing an EAP for their firefighters like Zenovate. Through Zenovate, firefighters can gain access to the support they need easily, quickly, and on their time. Get access to support like therapy, financial coaching, meditation, and more.
EAPs can also be helpful for any first responder – including police officers.
Celebrate Firefighter Appreciation Day by providing firefighters the support they deserve! Request a demo to see what Zenovate can do for your team.