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Taking the right steps for mental health

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After attending multiple road crashes in a short space of time, CFA Ararat firefighter Jeydon Nancarrow recognised he “didn’t feel right”.

Taking the right steps for mental health

This Saturday, he will climb 28 floors to raise awareness of mental health issues and important funds for support and research into the area.

He will be joined by 600 fellow firefighters and emergency services workers to tackling the Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb at Crown Metropol in Melbourne.

In its sixth year, the event aims to raise $700,000 for the Emergency Services Foundation, Lifeline and the Black Dog Institute.

This year, and recently passed the $2 million mark of funds raised since its inception.

In the early years, funds were raised for the Alfred Hospital Burns Unit, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, but in the past few years funds have been dedicated to mental health research and support services.

Jeydon agreed it was a good fit for the event.

“As a person who has never really sought help for mental illness, in the last few years I have,” he said. 

A CFA volunteer firefighter for 13 years, Jeydon said for him things began to pile up after he attended four road accidents in nine hours one Good Friday.

“At the first one a man passed away and two others were taken to hospital, then at the second call a man was trapped and a female passenger was not in a good shape.

"Then, just as we were about to leave, the call came in that a lady had crashed into a tree, with her children and dog in the car. Then, an hour or so after returning, another call came in that involved minor injuries to young children,” he said.

“By the end of the fourth call I was extremely mentally exhausted.

“I’ve never felt like that before in my 13 years with the CFA. For weeks after I was not myself.”

He said a week later he was called to another road accident.

“I went knowing I didn’t feel right. I made the decision to protect myself by standing by the truck and not getting involved, which isn’t like me.

“We found out later the man involved passed away.”

It was then that Jeydon called peer support.

“I lied to them and myself. I said I’ll be okay, just needed a quick chat.

“That was until I started to get triggers. TV shows with accidents in them, I couldn’t watch things like that.

“One day I even cried on my way home from work.”

It prompted Jeydon to call peer support again, and they referred him to CFA’s Member Assistance Program that has been assisting with his recovery.

“For anyone out there that’s going through tough times, I want them to know that getting help actually works. I’m doing it right now.”