In recognition of ‘R U OK? Day’, Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) career and volunteer personnel held events across the State on Thursday 10 September.
‘R U OK? Day’ aims to tackle issues surrounding mental health and suicide prevention by encouraging everyone to take the time to help prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation by having regular, meaningful conversations.
Wellness Programs Coordinator Charlotte Hunter said the best proactive assistance you can provide is to genuinely raise the question “are you ok?” with your mates.
“It is a sad fact that suicide is the biggest killer of Australians under 44 years,” Charlotte said.
“Having these conversations works to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health, and helps to increase the likelihood that people will access professional support when they need it.”
Events to raise awareness around the State included barbeques, morning and afternoon teas, with WA Police and St John Ambulance personnel also invited to attend in many regions.
Wellness Manager Anneliese Smith said the gatherings were accompanied by a discussion or presentation about mental health and its impacts, and what services are available.
“The Commissioner for Mental Health, Tim Marney, gave a presentation at the Cockburn Emergency Services Complex, followed by morning tea,” she said.
“He gave a very valuable talk about his own experiences and the importance of recognising when you need help, speaking up and seeking support.
“It also gave people the opportunity to ask any questions that they had about mental health and support options.
“We have had some very encouraging feedback on the events and the positive impact that increasing awareness can have on DFES employees and volunteers, as well as the larger community.”
The DFES Wellness Branch has established a suite of support services, one of which is the revitalised Peer Support Program.
Underpinned by a key philosophy of ‘a mate helping a mate’ the program relies on Peer Support Officers to act as a port of call for those in need of support.
Details for Peer Support Officers (by region and by service) and other information about the program is available through:
· the DFES Intranet and Volunteer Portal by clicking on the Peer Support Program page (under Wellness);
· station/brigade/group/unit/workplace noticeboards; and
· the Wellness Branch by calling (08) 9395 9874.