This week, our fire crews and staff across the West Midlands are supporting Mental Health Awareness week.
Supported by the Mental Health Foundation, the week aims to end the stigma of mental health and show that ‘It’s OK to not be OK’.
With 1 in 6 adults a week experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, it’s more important than ever to provide support, understanding and guidance to those suffering from poor mental health.
Often people forget that, although highly-skilled and hard-working, emergency services staff suffer from mental health issues equally, if not more, than everyone else. Some of the incidents they attend can be extremely distressing.
Area Commander Steve Vincent said: “We very much see our organisation as a family, and offer a range of services to support our staff with mental health difficulties.
“Mental health affects us all in one form or another. Sharing stories allows us to rationalise and move forward in a positive way in our daily lives.
“It’s really important that you share experiences and listen to people – not just during this important week, but beyond. This is a journey we should be on for the rest of our lives.”
Although the primary focus of Mental Health Week is ‘body image’ (one in eight UK adults have had suicidal thoughts or feelings about how they look), our focus for the week will be our staff’s general mental health.
We have a wide range of support mechanisms in place for our workforce, such as post-incident ‘diffusing’ sessions and mental health first aiders who are trained to spot the initial signs of someone who’s struggling. Our excellent occupational health team can provide more bespoke support and, if necessary, refer colleagues to more specialist help. This includes accessing services of The Fire Fighters Charity.
To find out more about Mental Health Awareness week, please visit the Mental Health Foundation website. If you or anyone you know is suffering with poor mental health or needs support, there are many resources available. You can call Samaritans, for free, on 116 123 or you can find your nearest NHS mental health support services via their website’s postcode finder.