Behavioral Health and Wellness in the Fire Service
Traditionally, medical and physical fitness have been prioritized above emotional or behavioral fitness in the Fire Service. However, it is clear from the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and other disasters that these priorities are now changing. With each passing year, research shows that fire personnel who balance physical, behavioral and emotional fitness have the best outcomes, whether one is looking at adjustment to becoming a fire fighter, ratings of career satisfaction, family well-being, or adjustment to retirement.
There is growing concern about behavioral health issues and the significant impact on wellness. The stresses faced by fire fighters, paramedics and EMTs throughout the course of their careers – incidents involving children, violence, inherent dangers of firefighting, and other potentially traumatic events – can have a cumulative impact on their mental health and well-being.
The IAFF Occupational Health, Safety and Medicine Division continues to develop resources that educate and support members on behavioral health concerns. Check back often for updated information on behavioral health programs and resources.