It seems that every day a new mental health support program starts up for emergency workers. It’s great that more and more options are coming our way, but I feel it’s getting difficult to see the forest among the trees, so to speak.

Would it not make sense to focus on what causes our stressors and work on eliminating them to create a more supportive work environment? We can do this through peer support and forming mental health working groups at work. Many programs and guidelines already exist to help us do this.

What if a robust and supportive work environment isn’t enough to fend off the mental trauma of a critical incident at work? CISM programs are already well established in many departments. Psychological support and proven treatments like EMDR are also excellent resources when S*** hits the fan.

A good peer support program and CISM team will do wonders for most departments but what happens when an emergency worker is trying to reintegrate back into the workforce? How do they overcome the stigma that’s involved with such a process? Educating both the worker and the rest of the department (managers) using an established reintegration program is the final step in a complete mental wellbeing support system for emergency workers.

Many departments have a CISM team, but few have both a peer support program and a CISM team. I have yet to see a department that has dedicated the proper resources to develop a supportive peer support program, a CISM team and a reintegration program. When you consider the cost involved with work-related mental trauma, I’m surprised more attention and resources are dedicated to this issue.

It’s time to rethink our approach to mental wellbeing for emergency workers. Many resources are available to us, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Organization of the resources available to form a complete mental wellbeing program including peer support, CISM and reintegration may be a better way to manage the forest among the trees.

Have a safe weekend everyone


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