Firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement officers experience traumas and stressors on the job that are unlike those seen in most other occupations. It’s not surprising, therefore, that recent research has shown that these workers are at higher risk of mental health injuries. The agencies that employ first responders are tasked with how to best support their mental health – from determining appropriate training for first responders and their managers, to sourcing occupationally aware practitioners, to aiding with recovery and hope through peer support. Currently, there are many approaches but no central inventory of resources or best practices that allow for sharing of knowledge, resources, and training across first responder agencies. It is this reality that in December 2015 led to the formation of the B.C. First Responders Mental Health Committee – a multi-agency committee representing labour and management from both urban and rural communities. Chaired by WorkSafeBC, the committee is working collaboratively to provide cross-organizational leadership and recommend practices that promote positive mental health for first responders across the province.
The mission of the Committee is to actively promote positive mental health and provide the leadership, best practices (resources, awareness, education, training, and supports) that first responders, their communities, and leaders need.