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Learning to manage our mental health

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Message from Irina Tchernitskaia, Wellbeing Programs

If you have ever been impacted by a mental health issue, know that you are not alone. In fact, nearly half of all people in Australia will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.  

That’s why it’s important to talk about mental health, as everyone is impacted in some way.

Learning to manage our mental health

The Working Mind teaches people about the 'big four'.

One of our goals in the wellbeing team at CFA is to encourage positive, proactive discussion around mental health. We want to get all our people talking to each other and busting down the stigma around mental health. 

We need to get to a point where talking about mental health is just as easy as talking about physical health.

We have a range of programs available to CFA members and their families to support their wellbeing. This includes the Member Assistance Program, Peer Support and Chaplaincy services, as well as the Let Me Know web-based platform. 

But we know that many of our people still don’t feel comfortable taking that first step and reaching out for help.

We felt we needed to help people learn how to recognise changes in their own mental health in the moment and become more resilient. We also wanted to empower people with tools they could use to support others to help tackle the stigma.

We’re currently rolling out two courses on a cascading basis to leaders including PTA staff, brigade management teams and operational staff.   

The Working Mind First Responders is being rolled out first, and helps people become more aware of their own mental health as well as how to recognise mental health concerns in others. It also teaches people about the big four (hint: I’m not talking about the banks or caravan parks).

The second course, Mental Health First Aid, gives people the confidence to provide initial support to others who may be experiencing a mental health problem or emergency.

Through completing these courses we’re hoping that people will see their own wellbeing improve because their own awareness of where they’re at is enhanced. We also hope that people who might need support for their own mental health will feel more comfortable seeking that support.

None of us are immune to impacts to our wellbeing - we’re all human after all.  Our people, particularly those in first responder roles, are impacted more than most.

I’m really thrilled to be part of the team delivering these important courses to our people and I look forward to meeting many of you as we roll them out across CFA.

If you’d like to know more visit The Learning Hub or email

I hope you take advantage of the opportunity to participate in these courses when they become available to you.

These courses have been funded under the Fire Services Statement, the State Government’s $60m investment in the Victorian Fire Services. 

Irina Tchernitskaia, Wellbeing Programs