Psychological injury among first responders is already an issue of national significance. Since November, as communities across Australia have been ravaged by fires, our emergency service workers have dedicated themselves to protecting hundreds of thousands of people and their property.
Our customers and whole communities are also experiencing situations similar to those that impact emergency personnel.
Resilience and you
It is normal to feel distress after an event like a bushfire.
You may have feelings of guilt, sadness, frustration and anger in the immediate aftermath. But if these are still present after a few weeks, then you should seek further support to identify constructive ways to manage those feelings.
Here are some simple things you can do to manage your mental wellbeing:
- Recognise that you have been through a traumatic event, allow yourself those feelings and remember your strengths and that help is available
- Try to get back into a normal sleep schedule. If you can’t sleep, still try to get plenty of rest
- Limit your exposure to news if it’s upsetting you, keep up-to-date, but avoid repeated viewing of disaster scenes
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Try to do some form of exercise, noting this may need to be indoors where air quality issues persist
- Give yourself time
Support to manage mental wellbeing
Emergency service workers contributing to firefighting and recovery efforts, and the communities affected by the bushfire crisis, are experiencing high exposure to potentially traumatic events, increasing their risk of developing PTSD and other psychological injuries.
The PTSD in Emergency Services page provides easy access to valuable resources to help manage mental wellbeing including:
- Recovery after Trauma Guides: information and support for exposure to traumatic events, with specific guides for Firefighters, Police, Paramedics, Health Professionals
- First Appointment videos: be mentally and physically prepared to start treatment with a psychologist, psychiatrist or exercise physiologist
- Exercise for mental health: Exercise is one of the best things you can do to preserve mental health or recover from mental illness
- Apps for wellbeing: apps and e-tools that can help you support your mental fitness through exercise, quality sleep, mindfulness and diet
- Resources for clinicians: PTSD guidelines for emergency service workers, and clinicians summary
These resources have been developed in partnership with leading national experts such as the Black Dog Institute and Phoenix Australia: Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, state-based emergency service agencies like NSW Police and Fire and Rescue.
Funding was made available through EML’s Member Benefits program. Our thanks to everyone who contributed to the development and distribution of these resources.
If you or anyone you know needs help contact:
Lifeline (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au)
Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au)
beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au)