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Extra mental health support for firefighters

11 September 2019

SOUTH YORKSHIRE firefighters are to get extra mental health support, chief officers have announced.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has published its first ever health and wellbeing strategy, which will put in place extra measures to supercharge support, ditch stigmas and change the culture around mental illness.

Specific help it plans to put in place include using British Red Cross specialists to provide fire crews with psychosocial support following traumatic incidents.

More than a dozen staff from across the organisation will also be trained up as peer support workers, meaning they too can visit crews after critical incidents.

The service also says it will invest in a 24/7 telephone counselling service, which any member of staff can contact for issues ranging from stress and anxiety, to money worries.

More information will also be made available to staff, telling them where they can get extra help if they are struggling with their mental health either inside or outside of work.

Deputy chief fire officer Alex Johnson, said, “Mental health has never had a higher profile nationally, but it’s a particularly important issue when talking about 999 staff who deal with traumatic incidents almost every day.

“We already offered lots of support to our staff, but it’s only right that we look to continually review and update the support we offer, adopting learning from other sectors and making our organisation the best it can possibly be as a place of work.”

The service already has its own in-house occupational health unit, access to counselling services, staff support networks and MIND Blue Light Champions- volunteers with an interest in mental health who can offer a listening ear.

A 2019 Mind survey found 85 per cent of fire and rescue workers had experienced stress or poor mental health whilst working for the emergency services.