News & Media

Looking after your mental health

By: Leith Hillard

Category: Health & Safety

  10.42 AM 16 March, 2017


Location: General

Views: 2566

CFA’s Member Assistance Program (MAP) provides a comprehensive range of support for our members and their immediate family that is confidential, free and accessible 24 hours a day.

There are three strands of support: general counselling; skills for psychological recovery; and manager assist.

Caraniche and D’Accord supply psychological services to CFA, with several 100 clinicians available for face-to-face or over-the-phone consultations during business hours and over-the-phone support available after hours and on weekends. Caraniche also offers trauma and critical incident debriefing services at CFA’s request.

CFA members or their immediate family seeking support can refer themselves to the Member Assistance Program or give a peer permission to apply on their behalf. Everyone is entitled to an initial three and a half hours of short-term, solution-focused counselling for any personal or workplace issues. Of the strands of support available through the CFA MAP, general counselling is the most commonly accessed by CFA members and their immediate family.

Skills for psychological recovery (SPR) supports the mental health of trauma survivors, witnesses or emergency responders. CFA has provided for an initial three hours of either general counselling or SPR support, with clinicians able to request additional support or refer on to other services. It can be delivered days, months or years after a traumatic event, with sessions delivered weekly if required or more spread out, according to the member’s needs.

If longer-term support is needed, the member would see their GP for a mental health plan to access support available through a Medicare-registered clinician.

“SPR works to help people regain a sense of control and confidence so they’re able to face new challenges,” said psychologist, and Caraniche Manager of Training and Workplace Services, Amanda Mechanic.

“People might present with feelings they can’t quite pinpoint: ‘I just don’t feel like myself. I feel like I’m drowning. Worries keep me awake at night.’

“People pursuing both general counselling and SPR will be in varied states of readiness to change and clinicians are trained to work with them where they’re at. They might be variously stuck, uncertain or have had a previous counselling session they experienced as negative. If the getting-to-know-you phase of the session takes longer while the person settles in, so be it.”

Some members work with the clinician to establish their treatment goal while others are focused on the issues before them and don’t have an overview. Once again, that’s quite normal and something the clinician will readily work with.

SPR sessions are primarily skills-based and look at issues such as emotional regulation where people learn to recognise their feelings and build their ability to deal with their needs and concerns. There’s an emphasis on becoming adaptive or resilient in the face of change, which can mean developing problem-solving skills and healthy thinking, managing physical and emotional reactions, getting involved in positive activities and strengthening social connections.

The Manager Assist strand of MAP puts managers in contact with experienced clinicians with management experience for coaching on issues such as effective team and/or performance management.

The magnificent work done by CFA peers over many years at incident scenes and in fire stations is likely one of the factors working to encourage more CFA members and their family members to access the support they are entitled to.

In the past six months, 76 per cent of CFA referrals were for men and 24 per cent for women; 29 per cent referred themselves, 23 per cent were referred by a peer and 10 per cent were referred by a family member. A total of 58 per cent of sessions were conducted face-to-face while 42 per cent were over the phone.

Reasons given for seeking support were 30 per cent discussing family and relationship issues; 27 per cent dealing with mental health issues; 15 per cent dealing with CFA incidents and events; 14 per cent covering CFA relationships and conflicts and nine per cent on workplace practices and employment issues.

To make an appointment or to access urgent support through the CFA MAP, contact 1300 795 711, open 24 hours a day

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Headspace on 1800 650 890.​

If you are in an emergency situation or at immediate risk of harm, contact emergency services on Triple Zero. 

Other CFA welfare support services

Peer Support Program: contact your local peer coordinator

Chaplaincy Program: 1800 337 068 (24 hours)

HeadsUP online resources: cfa.vic.gov.au/headsup

Last Updated: 16 March 2017