KAWARTHA LAKES-Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue has announced it will be providing the Resilient MindsTM program to its teams. Officials say Resilient Minds is a training program designed to build resilience, provide essential mental health support and equip firefighters with the tools they need to navigate the unique challenges of their profession.
Resilient Minds is an evidence-informed, peer-to-peer initiative that has been specially crafted by and for firefighters. It addresses the emotional demands that are inherent in the firefighting profession.
“The nature of firefighting exposes personnel to demanding and stressful situations, which can have a lasting impact on their mental health,” says Mike Matthews, Deputy Fire Chief, Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue. “Having taken the course myself, I can say with confidence that I’ve gained invaluable techniques that have nurtured my own mental well-being. I look forward to witnessing the positive effects extended to my colleagues.”
Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Services is offering their teams two Resilient Minds program options scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2024. Firefighters will undergo 14 Resilient Minds courses, equipping them with stress management, resilience-building, and peer support skills. Additionally, two Train-the-Trainers workshops will certify instructors to lead the program internally, cultivating a culture of mental health support across the team.
“We’re pleased to offer these services to fire rescue teams across Ontario,” says Camille Quenneville, Chief Executive Officer, CMHA Ontario. “By equipping Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue personnel with these vital tools, CMHA Ontario is helping firefighters effectively cope with stress, build resilience, and support one another.”
“Firefighter families often require supplementary support,” says Mark Graham, CEO of CMHA Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR). “We offer housing, case management, vocational and justice programs, along with 24/7 crisis assistance through our toll-free number. Our specialized mental health training covers workplace well-being, suicide intervention, and mental health first aid. These programs empower individuals to address mental health and substance use concerns effectively.”
According to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, Ontario has 437 fire departments with a total of 30,716 firefighters. This includes 18,281 volunteers, 11,971 full-time firefighters, and 464 part-timers. Many of them work in small or rural regions, facing significant barriers to mental health care like cost and resource availability.
Some funding for the program was provided by the Movember fundraiser.
“Since late 2021, Movember has been supporting the evaluation of Resilient Minds, working to help determine its effectiveness in improving firefighters’ well-being,” says Ivy Lim-Carter, Director of Social Innovation, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention at Movember Canada, “We’re excited to see the program continue to grow and to have more of Ontario’s firefighting community able to participate.”
To learn more about Resilient Minds, please visit resilientmindsontario.ca.