Earlier this year, the mental health charity Mind reported that 30% of firefighters have contemplated taking their own lives. Now, the Fire Brigades Union has produced a new guide for union reps to help them understand and support those suffering from mental health issues in the workplace.
The guide will explain the range of mental health challenges that can affect firefighters, what the workforce can expect from their employers and how FBU officials can represent and support them.
Sean Starbuck, the FBU national officer responsible for the guide, says that the government’s austerity program has made the situation worse. “In recent years firefighters have faced lower pay, longer hours, job insecurity, changes to shift systems, attacks on pensions and a whole host of other arbitrary changes to working practices”, he says.
“There is still a stigma attached to poor mental health. Many members would rather say they are off ill with something else – anything but admit to mental health problems. We are not going to be able to help anybody when they fear punishment for suffering from a legitimate medical problem.
“This guide will help our reps tackle that stigma and support our members who are going through a terrible period in their lives. The FBU take the issue of mental health very seriously and this is only an initial document. We have other work planned"
You can download the guide here: Mental health in the workplace – an initial guide for reps