Focus on Fire Service Behavioral Health in May for Mental Health Awareness Month

Firefighters, EMTs, and other emergency responders routinely face situations that can impact their behavioral health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and now is a great opportunity to evaluate your own risk factors, as well as implement training and awareness in your department so all personnel know that help is available should they need it.

Firefighters and emergency personnel are at risk for many behavioral health issues including PTSD, stress, anxiety, addiction, suicidal thoughts, depression, burnout, and more. View a recent news story highlighting firefighter PTSD.

A key step in preventing tragic outcomes is for personnel to be able to talk openly about behavioral health issues. Work to create a culture in your department where behavioral health is recognized as being just as important as physical health and safety. Train members on why behavioral health is important, what risk factors they face, how to recognize signs and symptoms, and what to do if they or a fellow firefighter or EMT needs help.

Utilize the tools, training, and resources available through the NVFC’s Share the Load™ program to raise awareness in your department this month and throughout the year.

Fire/EMS Helpline
The Fire/EMS Helpline – 1-888-731-FIRE (3473) – is available 24/7 and provides free, confidential support to firefighters, EMTs, and their family members struggling with any behavioral health issue. Run by American Addiction Centers, the Helpline was created by firefighters and is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of fire service personnel and their families.

The Helpletter – Issue 1 and Issue 2
This newsletter features articles from subject matter experts and fire service veterans who provide tips, tools, and resources to help first responders take a proactive approach in addressing many behavioral health issues.

Share the Load Posters and Ads
Hang the posters up at the station and place the ads in department newsletters to let personnel know they are not alone and help is available if they need it.

Warning Signs to Know
This video helps first responders and family members recognize the symptoms of five common behavioral health issues and where they can turn to for help.

Suicide in the Fire and Emergency Services: Adopting a Proactive Approach to Behavioral Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention
This report explores various firefighter/EMT behavioral health concerns and identifies best practices for mental wellness and suicide prevention.

Preventing and Coping with Suicide in the Fire and Emergency Services
This online course focuses on suicide awareness and prevention, including the signs and symptoms preceding suicide, resources for departments and individuals, and the healing process when coping with a firefighter suicide.

Behavioral Health in the Fire and Emergency Services
This online course examines the cultural progress, future potential, and concerns surrounding behavioral health in the fire and emergency services, as well as resources and tools available to help those in need.

Brotherhood vs. Parenthood: Finding your Life Balance
This online course looks at all the roles a volunteer firefighter plays throughout their lives and helps identify strategies for prioritizing each aspect to achieve better balance and time management.

Putting Out the Fire: Stress Resilience Strategies
This online course helps responders key in on the types of stressors most prominent for firefighters and how to successfully manage stress as it arises.

Resource Center
This compendium of fire and emergency services behavioral health resources includes organizations, programs, helplines, reports, courses, and webinars.

Find all these resources and more at www.nvfc.org/help.