By Alisdair Valente
A new free online mental health initiative has been launched today to support the wellbeing and psychological distress of emergency service workers.
Fortem Australia provides first responders with proactive tools to build their mental fitness and enable them to work better through varying stressors and trauma that can occur in carrying out their duties.
Managing Director and Co-Founder of Fortem Australia believes that the Black Summer Bushfires of 2019/20 have only intensified the confronting, dangerous and traumatic conditions our emergency personnel have to endure.
“We understand the stress and burnout endured by family members and seek to support the entire family unit through protective and preventative methods,” Mr Bale said.
Clinical Psychologist and Director of Clinical Services at Fortem Australia, Jae Lee believes that community openness to mental health wellbeing is paramount in supporting first responders after a crisis.
“There’s a sense of looking at emergency service personnel like they are ‘Superman’ and we thank them and look up to them, however because of that connotation we think that because they are super that they are impervious to everything,” Ms Lee said.
Ms Lee’s clinic is based in Sydney, New South Wales, but other Fortem Australia offices are located in Queensland, Victoria and the ACT.
“The principles of this initiative are to promote the protection of mental wellbeing and to say that it is ok to speak up if you’re not ok,” Ms Lee said.
Being consciously aware of how big a part mental wellbeing plays in everyone’s lives; particularly emergency service workers is a large step forward in advocating for mental fortitude within the community, Ms Lee attains.
“This initiative is about getting on the front foot and adopting simple measures that will better support our frontline,” Mr Bale said.
For more information to see if this programme is relevant to yourself, family, friends or anyone else you know that has engaged in first respondent work, visit fortemaustralia.org.au.