Take Time to Focus on Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought uncertainty as well as changes to lifestyle and fire/EMS operations that can have an emotional impact. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and now is a perfect time to focus on mental wellbeing for yourself and your crew. The following resources are available to help firefighters, EMS providers, and their families. Learn more and find additional resources from the National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) Share the Load Program at www.nvfc.org/help.

Reset and Recharge: Taking Care of Our Mental Health in Uncertain Times – The NVFC and Ali Rothrock, founder of On the Job and Off, held a webinar on how being a first responder during a pandemic can impact our mental health. The recorded webinar is available on-demand.

Reset and Recharge: How to Manage Stress in Uncertain Times – The NVFC and Jeff Dill, founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, teamed up to provide this webinar to discuss strategies responders can use to manage stress and anxiety and to be there for each other during these uncertain times. The recorded webinar is available on-demand.

Fire/EMS Helpline – If you need to talk to someone about any behavioral health issue, the Fire/EMS Helpline is always available at 1-888-731-FIRE (3473). The Helpline is brought to you by American Addiction Centers in partnership with the NVFC.

Training – The NVFC offers behavioral health courses in its online Virtual Classroom, including:

  • Behavioral Health in the Fire Service
  • Stress and Life Management: Finding Your Balance as a Volunteer
  • Putting Out the Fire: Stress Resilience Strategies
  • Preventing and Coping with Suicide in the Fire and Emergency Services
  • Addressing Substance Abuse, PTSD, and Other Concerns in the Fire Service

Getting a Handle on Stress – This article by David Ballard for the NVFC Helpletter provides tips and strategies to help emergency responders manage stress.

The Mindful Firefighter – This article by Hersch Wilson for the NVFC’s Firefighter Strong newsletter explains how practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress.

How Disciplined Thinking Can Reduce Stress – This article by Hersch Wilson looks at how disciplined thinking can be a tool firefighters and EMS providers use to reduce stress.

Learning Resilience in the Fire Service – This article by Hersch Wilson discusses resiliency and highlights eight core practices that can help firefighters and EMS providers prevent or manage symptoms of PTSD.

Warning Signs to Know – This short video helps first responders and family members recognize the symptoms of five common behavioral health issues.

Behavioral Health: Understand the Risks and Know the Signs – This video encourages responders to know the signs of behavioral health issues and when to get help.

Suicide Prevention: Talking to a Responder in Need – This video provides tips on how to talk to a firefighter or EMS provider in need of help.