Fire and rescue - supporting a colleague with a mental health problem

A guide for staff and volunteers in the fire and rescue service on how to support a colleague experiencing a mental health problem.

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What is mental health and mental wellbeing?

Taryn blogs about mental health and wellbeing. What do they mean to you?

Taryn Ozorio
Posted on 24/01/2011

What is a mental health problem?

Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. Some mental health problems are described using words that are in everyday use, for example ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’. This can make them seem easier to understand, but can also mean people underestimate how serious they can be.

A mental health problem feels just as bad, or worse, than any other illness – only you cannot see it. Mental health problems are very common, affecting around one in four people in Britain. It's even more common among people in the fire and rescue service, and it can affect people regardless of gender or rank.

But there is still stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health problems, as well as many myths about what different diagnoses mean. Many people say that being discriminated against in work and social situations can be a bigger burden than the illness itself.

Our research shows:

  • Fire and rescue service staff and volunteers are more at risk of developing a mental health issue and are less likely to seek help from their employer than the general population.
  • 85% of fire and rescue service personnel have experienced stress and poor mental health at work.
  • 37% of fire and rescue service personnel think that colleagues would treat them differently, in a negative way, if they disclosed a mental health problem at work.


This information was published in November 2015. We will revise it in 2018.

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