Mental health. It’s a term that is used frequently to described people’s state of mind and mental wellbeing, however it is also a broad term that we recognise as being almost impossible to define.

We all experience moments of stress, anxiety, panic, fear, loneliness and other such challenging feelings in our lives, it’s what makes us human. We are all also affected by different things in different ways; what may be water off one person’s back, may stick with another for a lifetime.

At The Fire Fighters Charity we understand this, but we also recognise that working in the fire services community brings with it its own unique challenges. As such, we know that many of us in this community experience similar periods in which our mental wellbeing is challenged, often for similar reasons.

What makes us different is that we understand the fire service. We know how your work can affect you and impact your life, so we understand how this can affect your mental wellbeing too.

We are here to support you with whatever psychological challenges you are facing and below are a few of the common reasons people turn to us:

Anxiety, stress and trauma

Anxiety and stress can manifest itself in a whole host of ways, from insomnia to feelings of anger or panic, while the reasons behind any one person’s anxiety or stress can be just as diverse.

We support many people who come to us after experiencing trauma – either on a one-off occasion or cumulatively over a period of time – and are left struggling to come to terms with their feelings.

Panic attacks and feelings of anxiety are commonplace amongst those who work in and around trauma, but can also arise for any number of personal reasons too.

You can read about how we support people experiencing anxiety or panic attacks here.

Real life story: Roger Moore

Bereavement

Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is often one of the hardest things we have to face.

Not only can the loss of that person create a void that can seem impossible to fill, but the resulting changes to life and routine can create equally challenging feelings that can seem hard to deal with.

We have supported people in the past experiencing these toughest of times and worked with them through a range of means to help them move forward with their lives.

If you’ve experienced a bereavement and are finding it hard, find out how we can support you here.

Loneliness and isolation

Many people we work with experience feelings of loneliness. For some this can occur after they retire or leave the fire and rescue service. Having spent a career working closely with colleagues and peers, the change of pace that comes with retirement can seem daunting and lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Losing contact with former friends and colleagues, or moving away from an area where you worked or served, can also leave people feeling isolated and alone. However, we can help you to connect with others and to come to terms with the change in lifestyle that retirement – or other life changing situation – can bring.

Find out how we can support you here.

Real life story: Tony Proctor

Overcoming adversity

Instances such as a sudden and dramatic change to your life, or a long term prognosis, can challenge your mental strength. For many of the people we work with this may, for example, have resulted from injury or illness.

Having to deal with the physical challenges that an injury or illness can bring, can also test our mental strength. Worry and anxiety around one’s personal health can be exacerbated by worry in regards to long term implications; will I be able to return to work? Will I be able to return to the pastimes I love? What if I don’t get better? How can I do this at my age? Will things ever be the same again?

We recognise and understand how life changing circumstances can affect your mental health, so to find out how we can support you if you’re struggling at the moment, click here.

Real life story: James Thorpe