Seeking help for mental wellness: a sign of courage

Recently, I was speaking to a colleague who reluctantly shared they were seeing a counsellor to deal with some issues. This long-tenured industry professional was struggling with being viewed differently. I applauded the courage the individual was showing and the leadership that was being demonstrated by the very act of seeking help.

I too struggled during my career with both professional and personal issues that affected how I showed up to my 9-1-1 Center every day.  We all think we can just continue to deal, or push feelings and emotions aside.  That is very far from the truth.  Finally, I concluded I had to seek help.  For me to remain effective in my role as Operations Manager, I had to get help to work through those things causing me challenges.

It will be my ongoing reality.  For those of us who have spent either 1 week or 30 years in this profession, we will have memories, triggers that can be activated by moments in our everyday lives.  We need to learn how to navigate those dark spaces, so we don’t succumb to those negative feelings.

We still seem to have a stigma attached to seeking counselling to help us with mental wellness issues we are facing.  For many of us, it was drilled into our psyche early in our career that this was a sign of weakness.  We have all learned, mostly the hard way, that just isn’t the case.

We continue to lose Emergency Number Professionals to suicide.  We can no longer ignore the crisis in our profession, in public safety and across the globe.  The National Emergency Number Association (NENA, USA) created a tool for all to use, the Wellness Continuum.  A tool that puts resources into the hands of anyone who may need them, their agencies and potentially their families in helping in mental wellness.  This has become a repository of vetted information and other materials to help with items such as mindset, skillset, and culture as it relates to overall wellness.

During this past year of the pandemic, we lost team members, beloved community members and family.  We have been isolated, standing watch over our communities, but in some cases, we have not done a good job on watching over one another.

Take a moment to check in on your colleagues.  If someone is acting out of character, he or she may be dealing with challenges and may just need a kind word.  The fact that we are not in this alone can be all someone needs to know. 

Some useful resources

NENA Wellness Continuum

EENA webinar: Mental Health and Emergency Services

EENA webinar: Health and Safety at Work (including mental health)

EENA 2019 Conference presentations here and here

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of EENA. Articles do not represent an endorsement by EENA of any organisation.

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