The International Association of Fire Chiefs Department of Volunteers and Competent Officials has released the 2021 Yellow Ribbon Update: Best Practices in Behavioral Wellness for Emergency Responders.
The new document complements the original version (released in 2017) and focuses on educating all ranks of the fire and emergency services about risk factors that can lead to poor mental health, such as:
- Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
- Mercy fatigue.
- Acute stress disorder.
- Gas lighting.
- Toxic work environments.
- learned helplessness.
According to the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, more firefighters die by suicide each year than they do in the line of duty, and it is likely that many suicides go unreported. This resource provides solutions and recommendations that can directly help firefighters and responders, including 7 lifesaving approaches/tools referred to as the “antidote” for measuring and reducing stressors:
- emotional smartness.
- Positive intelligence.
- Strengthen the relationship.
- Post-traumatic growth.
- Tools to measure and reduce stress.
- Emotional tactics worksheet.
Each antidote in the report is supported with additional resources.
The report also includes a new set of 11 best practices to help normalize the mental health impacts of emergency and fire service professions that department leaders can use to encourage a culture that supports mental health, create impactful behavioral health programs and more. The “how-to” approach to best practices is complemented by implementation tips and a summary of survey findings on what agencies are doing to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the behavioral health of their employees.
All fire departments and other responding agencies are encouraged to share this report with departmental leadership, including the Peer Support Team, the Chaplain Assistance Program and staff.
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