Mental Health and Wellness of Personnel
Category: Fire & Rescue
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for fire service leaders. Today I am going to talk about mental health and wellness.
Mental health and wellness is the responsibility of everyone in the fire service. Develop a program with input from personnel from across the department, and it’s much more likely to be accepted.
This topic is getting more and more attention, and that’s a good thing. Department administrators should continue to emphasize the mental well-being as well as the physical well-being of their personnel.
Responsibility for mental well-being starts at the top. But everyone from the rookie in the station to the fire chief needs to be involved when it comes to mental health and wellness of personnel.
I’m not saying there needs to be a meeting every shift to talk about everyone’s feelings. What I am saying is that department administrators need to be sure there is a plan to address the mental health and wellness of their personnel.
Now a lot of you are probably thinking, well, we’re all set because we have an employee assistance program, or EAP. Don’t get me wrong. EAP is a good start, but ask yourself a few questions. Do my personnel feel comfortable using it? How effective is EAP when it comes to fire service-related issues? Would I use the program myself? Also, remember that EAPs don’t recognize when a member is experiencing mental health issues. Only other members and officers can see a developing problem. Recognizing a mental health issue and knowing what to do next should be a part of any department mental well-being program.
How about being a little more proactive? Set up a committee made up of personnel from across the department. Find out what your people are looking for in a mental health and wellness program. If you have a labor organization, involve them in the process. Talk to local or regional clinicians who have experience working with fire service personnel. See if they are available and willing to help you develop a program.
And, not to digress, but if you need help setting up a wellness program, I encourage you to check out Cordico. Cordico’s app provides access to critical mental health information and resources to help those on the front lines best take care of themselves and ensure they are best prepared to serve others.
Once a program is in place, it’s up to the department’s officers to encourage participation. Line officers need to stress that participating in the mental health and wellness program is a sign of strength and shows a commitment to the well-being of self and crew.
And now we reach the firefighter level. Rank-and-file field personnel are what make a mental health and wellness program successful. You need to embrace the opportunities that are presented. Take a few minutes to become familiar with the program. You’ll be in a better position to take control of your mental health issue, should one arise, and help other members with theirs.
To sum up, mental health and wellness is the responsibility of everyone in the fire service. Develop a program with input from personnel from across the department, and it’s much more likely to be accepted. The key is to get started with that program development as soon as possible.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.