New resources support first responders’ mental health

The number of workplace mental health issues in Saskatchewan is rising, and if you’re a first responder, the risk is even greater.

Firefighters, police, paramedics and others in the field are regularly exposed to traumatic events, which means they experience more work-related psychological injuries. First responders are four times more likely than the general population to experience mental health issues, according to research.

Now, there’s comprehensive mental health supports you can access at www.saskfirstrespondersmentalhealth.ca. Developed jointly by WorkSafe Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan First Responders’ Mental Health Committee and its first responder partners, this new website for workers and employers features resources for managing work pressures, becoming psychologically resilient and building a supportive community.

Improving mental health

The website provides first responder organizations and professionals with easy access to the following materials:

  • Phone numbers for confidential 24/7 crisis support centres
  • Information on mental health support groups for first responders and their families
  • Anonymous self-assessments for conducting a personal mental health check
  • Strategies for self-care and dealing with critical incidents
  • Training in supporting workplace mental health

Fostering positive workplaces

From 2016 to 2018, mental health claims to the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board increased by 142 per cent. The new Saskatchewan First Responders’ Mental Health Committee website is part of a broader effort to address the growing problem of workplace mental health issues in all occupations.

Ending stigma

When it comes to accessing mental health services, stigma can still be a barrier. These resources are intended to help reduce this barrier so that first responders can feel confident about seeking support.

The Saskatchewan First Responders’ Mental Health Committee is working on several other goals specific to first responders, including developing an anti-stigma campaign, researching assessment and treatment best practices, and supporting mental health practitioners. These efforts will help WorkSafe Saskatchewan achieve its goal of reducing mental health claims.