The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) through the Everyone Goes Home® program has released the Fire Service Behavioral Health Management Guide to help fire departments in their efforts to implement a comprehensive behavioral health plan. The Fire Service Behavioral Health Management Guide supports Firefighter Life Safety Initiative #13 which states that firefighters and their families must have access to counseling and psychological support.
Mental health has often been overlooked by the medical community as part of a patient’s treatment plan. Issues such as depression, anxiety and addiction were considered failings in a person’s character rather than an illness or injury that can be treated and managed. Within the fire service, such stigmas were often exacerbated because firefighters are expected to be strong, courageous and impervious to the stressors of their experiences Fortunately, this limited approach to healing has changed in society and behavioral health and physical health are now viewed as equally important in our overall wellness. The fire service has recognized this and many fire departments have incorporated behavioral health in their overall firefighter wellness programs. This guide will help fire departments enhance their existing behavioral health programs and also assist fire departments who are just beginning to develop formalized programs with limited resources.
A variety of departments provided their expertise to develop the guide to help others create a successful behavioral health program. It emphasizes the key roles department leadership, firefighters, peer support and clinical support play to maintain these efforts.
Funding for the Behavioral Health Management Guide was generously provided through the DHS/FEMA Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.