While we acknowledge Mental Health Awareness week, this is not a subject that can remain confined to just seven days. These are conversations we need to have every week of the year (and not just the rainy ones during winter!).
The UFBA is driving a workshop on psychological wellbeing, inviting our partners at the Associated Agencies to work in collaboration. We’re pleased to see attendance and interest from the RPA, FRFANZ, NZPFU, Welfare Society, PSA, Fire and Emergency and career firefighter Josh Darby. We’re doing this because we feel there is more that can be done to ensure our brigade members are getting as much support as they can.
We’ll be comparing notes on where we think psychological wellbeing is at within our sector. We’ll consider whether the needs of our shared memberships are being catered for well enough and coming up with solutions to address any perceived gaps we see, in terms of delivering appropriate and targeted support where needed for all personnel. We’re looking for actions we can all commit to and will work with FENZ to try and make this a priority.
That last point is important. Firefighter Josh Darby, who is presenting during one of our conference breakouts, completed a thorough study on issues of psychological harm across our sector with testimonials from a number of contributors. From his study Josh proposed a number of initiatives which we endorse. We really encourage you to read this on the psychological wellbeing page of our website here.
When finding solutions to any challenge we need to be clear around the scope and milestones – we’ve included a one page overview below which we’re using purely to start the conversation as a snapshot of what we’re trying to address. This looks at the context, problems we’re experiencing, scope and proposed solutions and current approach. We know in reality it’s a lot more raw, brutal and emotional. If you feel there’s anything you’d like to add please do let us know.
We’ll need to determine what success looks like, what targets and measures we’ll need in place to know that whatever initiatives we build upon are being effective, and how to engage key stakeholders. This is not an issue that is owned just by Fire and Emergency NZ – finding solutions belongs to us all; from peer to peer at brigade level to the strategic decision makers. Just as we implemented the first psychological wellbeing workshops almost three years ago, we’re continuing to lead on this subject and encourage others to do so in collaboration.
From this we hope to develop a strategy with Fire and Emergency, to put initiatives into place and ensure they are accessible to everyone, regardless of brigade type, role or service. Our healthy communities need to start with healthy people.
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