Amid a particularly challenging past two years for Victorians, CFA is marking R U OK? Day and highlighting the importance of mental health and wellbeing on Thursday, 9 September.
While mental health should be a priority for everyone, every day, R U OK? Day is a national reminder to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times
This year’s theme is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’, which is in response to new research revealing 22 per cent of Australians aren’t reaching out because they don’t think someone needs their help.
CFA acknowledges that between the damaging bushfires of 2019-20 and the pandemic, the past two years have been tough for everyone in our Victorian communities. That is why it is so important for Victorians and our CFA volunteers to stay connected and feel supported.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said mental health and wellbeing are always a high priority for CFA and encouraged all volunteers to check in with each other this R U OK? Day.
“For so many of our members, their local brigade is like a second family to them, so I encourage our people ensure their peers feel supported through these challenging times,” he said.
“We also understand our volunteers often respond to confronting incidents when serving our communities in their role at CFA.
“For this reason, it is critically important that we can provide them with appropriate mental health support services.
“In a time when we need to stay physically distanced, it’s more important than ever that we remain socially connected, and R U OK Day is the perfect opportunity to check in on someone.”
Read about our other member’s R U OK Day stories:
CFA’s Wellbeing Support Line provides CFA members and their immediate families to have an accessible mental health and wellbeing service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“This line is available for any level of support and advice, including following a potentially traumatic event,” CO Heffernan said.
“CFA offers a number of wellbeing programs, including the Member Assistance Program (MAP), Peer Support Program and Chaplaincy Program, among others.”
General Manager, Health, Safety and Wellbeing, Mark Caruana said life’s ups and downs happen to everyone so not only is it important to check in one those you know, but be aware of how you’re feeling yourself and be open to talking to someone if you need to.
“You don’t have to wait until your mental health has deteriorated to get help or to talk to someone,” he said.
“We often hear our members say they didn’t access support earlier because they didn’t believe their struggles were significant or important enough – but the truth is there is no issue too small and we have resources available to help.
“If you are feeling even slightly impacted, don’t ignore it and speak with someone you trust.
“Also, if you’re going to ask someone if they’re okay, make sure you have the time, space and emotional energy to genuinely follow up with a discussion.
“The most important thing is to listen.”
Those interested in learning more about R U OK? Day, visit the website at www.ruok.org.au.
If you are not okay, or if you notice a change in someone you know, CFA volunteers, staff and their families can contact the CFA Wellbeing Support Line on 1800 959 232 to access free, confidential support that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The support services include the Member Assistance Program with Psychologists and Counsellors, Peer Support Program, Chaplaincy Program, Let Me Know web-based app, as well as other services provided by the Organisational Wellbeing Team.