Firefighters across the county are being encouraged to talk about mental health as part of Time to Talk Day.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are taking part in the annual event on Thursday (February 01) organised by the Time to Change campaign, formed by the MIND and Rethink Mental Illness charities.
Stations will be holding sessions, running exercises and providing resources to their crews to encourage them to start conversations on their mental health. There has been a sharp focus on the mental health of firefighters in the past year with the Fire Fighters Charity increasing their mental health support and following the Grenfell Tower fire.
HFRS Inclusion and Diversity Partner Sarah Kay said:
“For Time to Talk Day we are encouraging all staff to start talking about their mental health. Resources will be available across the Service, on station and at headquarters, to start conversations, give information on support services available and advice on how to support friends, family and colleagues who may have mental health issues.
“There is still a lot of stigma attached to the subject and talking about mental health in our day to day lives will start to break this down.
“Those working in the emergency services are much more likely to have a mental health issue at some stage so it’s especially important that we have an environment where we can be open and honest about our mental health.”
Time to Change are encouraging people to get involved by talking to family, friends and colleagues or join in with quizzes, coffee mornings and other events that are taking place across the country.
Redbridge and Southsea Fire Station’s are just two of the stations across the county getting involved as the Service continues to push the issue of mental health following the introduction of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s very own Mental Health First Aiders.
Crew Manager and Mental Health First Aider Alex Snook said:
“I initially wanted to become a Mental Health First Aider because I had experienced poor mental health myself in the past. I wanted to learn more about what I could do to help friends and colleagues with their journey back to a healthier state of mind.
“People sometimes just need someone to listen to them, often sharing a problem with someone who they can identify with on an informal level can help tremendously.”
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman Councillor Chris Carter said:
“The physical and mental well-being of our firefighters is of the utmost importance.
“It is great to see how open our crews have been around the topic of mental health and all the work our Inclusion and Diversity team and our Mental Health First Aiders are doing over Time to Talk Day.”
The 30-strong group of Mental Health First Aiders are trained members of staff able to provide support and sign-posting for their colleagues and volunteers who may be experiencing poor mental health.
The Service also offers a Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) assessment to support personnel after they’ve been exposed to a significantly traumatic event. To find out more about the TRiM support process please visit www.hantsfire.gov.uk/about-us/what-we-do/trim/.