Message from Irina Tchernitskaia, Psychologist, Wellbeing Programs
Today is R U OK? Day, and one year since we launched our new Wellbeing Support Line – one number to access CFA’s member and family support services.
Like physical health, mental health is something we all have. Unfortunately, most people don’t see them as equal, and it’s time for that to change.
If you stub your toe, you might feel some pain but you’re OK to walk, go to work or play with the kids.
A broken leg might require crutches and even some time off work. You’re definitely going to need support in managing your pain. You may even require physical therapy.
Would you reach out for help? Would you tell people about what happened? In which instance?
We don’t tend to talk about our mental health in the same way we talk about our physical health.
One of our goals in the Wellbeing Team is to encourage that positive, proactive discussion around mental health. The more each of us does this, the more it will become commonplace, something we feel as comfortable to talk about just as we would our stubbed toe or broken leg.
We also want to help people to better understand changes in their own mental health, that there are fluctuations, and to help them recognise when they may need to get that outside support.
Since we launched our Wellbeing Support Line we have seen an overall increase in calls to our services, which indicates that people feel more comfortable asking for support.
And I also hope it’s because the stigma around mental health is reducing.
Since the launch we have also added several new support services to our suite.
These include the Let Me Know (LMK) online platform- a free, confidential tool, that enables you to record your exposure to stress and assess and measure your mental health.
We are also rolling out two courses on a cascading basis to leaders including PTA staff, brigade management teams and operational staff – The Working Mind First Responders and Mental Health First Aid.
These courses help people learn how to recognise changes in their own mental health in the moment, as well as empower them with the tools to support others.
And we will continue to innovate and add to our services to provide the best range of support for our people.
As I mentioned earlier, today is R U OK? Day, a national day of action that raises awareness of the importance of starting conversations around mental health.
We all play a role in ensuring the wellbeing of those around us, especially in an organisation like ours where our people are attending emergencies and incidents that can have a cumulative impact on mental health.
It’s important that we talk and then keep talking about mental health, not just on RU OK? Day but every day.
Let’s keep the conversations going.
CFA Wellbeing Support Line
If you are not okay, or if you notice a change in someone you know, contact the CFA Wellbeing Support Line on 1800 959 232 to access free, confidential support that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Wellbeing services are available to all CFA volunteers, employees and their immediate family members.
The support services include the Member Assistance Program with Psychologists and Counsellors, Traditional and Career Firefighter Peer Support Programs, Chaplaincy Program, Bullying and Harassment Hotline, Let Me Know web-based app, Centres Against Sexual Assault as well as other services provided by the Wellbeing Team.
To view the complete range of services, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/wellbeing.