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New app to improve the mental health of first responders

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07 Aug 2018
The mental health of first responders will get a vital boost thanks to a new mobile app designed by MFB firefighters.

Launched today, the Let Me Know app will provide firefighters with a tool to assess and measure their mental health at any time, anywhere, at the touch of a button.

It is the first known app to allow first responders to track their exposures to stress using a mental health continuum, an internationally recognised tool.

The app incorporates built in “trigger points” which send an alert to a user to make a self-assessment or seek support once a trigger is hit.

The app also features wellbeing tips to improve sleep, fitness and nutrition and a range of mental health and support contacts.

The app will initially be available to MFB firefighters and support staff but will soon be available to CFA employees and has been designed to be expanded to other emergency services.

Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health Phoenix Australia lent their expertise to the initiative, providing advice on the content and structure of the app, information on best practice and ensuring messaging was sensitive and appropriate.

The app is a legacy of MFB Station Officer Adrian Newton who began raising awareness of the importance of mental health prior to his tragic death in a motorcycle accident in Bali in 2016.

MFB Chief Officer/Chief Executive Officer Dan Stephens said MFB was a proud sponsor of the app, which is the culmination of several years of dedicated work by firefighters and members of the Let Me Know committee.

“Mental illness, such as depression or anxiety can affect us all at certain times in our lives,” Chief Officer Stephens said.

“As firefighters we regularly respond to traumatic incidents which can have an adverse impact on our mental health.

“MFB is committed to the physical and mental wellbeing of our firefighters and we continue to explore new methods, such as the let Me Know app, to support our people.

“I’m particularly proud of the work our firefighters have put into the development of this app, which has benefits for the entire emergency services sector.”

CFA Deputy Chief Officer Gavin Freeman said the app would be a great addition to existing support services – including a peer support program, 24-hour phone psychologist service, chaplaincy program, member wellbeing advisors and the HeadsUp online toolkit – offered by CFA to all its members and their immediate families.

“Our job as first responders is a tough one. We see things that people should not have to see and we must recognise that sometimes it is OK not to feel OK. This app is one of the ways we can support our people in looking after themselves and their mental health,” he said.

 

Let Me Know Committee Chair Station Officer Nathaniel O’Brien said regular attendance at emergency incidents could have a cumulative effect on first responders.

“MFB’s support services are world leading, but it can be hard for people to take that first step and talk to someone about how they’re feeling and over time, issues can build up.

“With this app we wanted to catch the people that don’t put their hands up.

Phoenix Australia Deputy Director, Andrea Phelps said Emergency Services workers were routinely exposed to difficult, distressing and potentially traumatic experiences.

“Resources like these are critical to ensure they can monitor their wellbeing, maintain their resilience, and get quick access to information and support.

“Our firefighters do so much positive work in the community. This app is about taking the time to do something for themselves.”

 

 

 

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