There have been several articles posted this week regarding the release of the independent review of the MFB’s mental health and culture. Initially the UFU (Unitied Firefighters Union) moved to block the report being made public, claiming it had not been consulted about its release. They have since agreed with the MFB to have it publicised. You can find it at the bottom of this post.
What we found interesting was the section where they interview medical professionals who had been interacting with MFB firefighters.
The review also interviewed medical professionals who were assigned to help firefighters deal with mental health problems.
“There are an untold number of fireys who are on their second, third or fourth marriage, who drink far too much and have never realised that all the trauma they have seen has played a huge part in how those issues came about in the first place,” one clinician said.
Another medical adviser described how firefighters were “beating themselves up” because they didn’t know how to cope.
One firefighter, reflecting the attitude of many, said: “I support other people so I shouldn’t need to support myself.”
A colleague tried to get help but didn’t like their counsellor.
“I haven’t bothered to see anyone else — I just put that stuff away somewhere and I avoid certain situations now. That’s how I cope,” the firefighter said.
MFB chief executive Jim Higgins said these were problems the organisation could no longer ignore.
“We have some good basics in place, but clearly there are significant systemic and cultural issues that we must now be brave enough to face, and to challenge our understanding of the ‘norm’,” Mr Higgins said.
The full report can be found on the herald sun’s website. (Link below).
If any of that above rings true with you, or you know someone who may be facing similar issues, please have a look at [our mental health directory.] Starting a conversation might just be enough to save someone’s life. We need to take mental health seriously, which means not only looking after our comrades, but looking after ourselves.