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Feeling Stresses? Why you need to Stay Mentally Healthy

It’s important to recognize that working in EMS is a stressful and often traumatic experience. Many people in EMS struggle with their mental health, and especially struggle with the ability to stay mentally healthy. What a lot of people fail to realize is that mental health is ongoing and requires maintenance and care. It’s not just something to start worrying about when you experience an issue with it. Think of your mental health as being similar to a car. You need to regularly check your tires, oil, water, etc. and ensure it’s in good operating condition. You clean and wash it often and take it to be serviced by a qualified mechanic so that issues can be identified and solved quickly and before they become catastrophic. Our mental health is very similar to caring for a car. We need to regularly check in on our mood, motivation and satisfaction in life and ensure our brain is in a good operating condition. We should do things to relax and take care of ourselves regularly, and see a counsellor to identify and work through any issues before they become overwhelming. What can we, at the Ripley Fire Company do to help you, our valued member? Below are a few ideas on how to stay mentally healthy, and is designed to be a proactive, preventative strategy for looking after your mental health. Talk it through You can to speak to someone about your feelings with a department member(s) who you are comfortable with. If you are not comfortable speaking with someone within our department, assistance can also be found within Chautauqua County. The following link contains many different services available to you: Mental Hygiene | Chautauqua County, NY (chqgov.com) Chautauqua County offers help in many forms. You do not have to see someone in person if that makes you uncomfortable. Phone sessions and video sessions are also available for your comfort. Information can be found in the link above for various forms as assistance as well as some helpful contact numbers at the end of this article. Exercise Psychologists have known for a while now that exercise is highly effective in improving your mental health. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can make a noticeable difference in your mental and physical health. (Disclaimer: ensure you check with your doctor before starting any new vigorous exercise) Healthy Eating Nutrition is an important aspect of your health, both physically and mentally. We’re not saying that eating an extra carrot will cure Depression or PTSD – but healthy eating and watching what you eat can contribute to better overall health and well-being. Take a Break Designating time to spend relaxing and unwinding is important for your mental health and can help to prevent burnout. Whether it’s a couple of days off, or a couple of weeks off, be sure to spend this time relaxing. CISM & CISD Debriefing after a critical incident is vitally important to process your thoughts and emotions early. While CISM can be undertaken in a group setting, you can also choose to receive support one on one. Enjoyment Taking time for the things you enjoy in life can help improve your mood. Whether this is a hobby or spending time with the people you love it will still have a huge benefit on your mental health. Join a Support Network Informal support networks/groups can come together to help each other out when struggling. You and your colleagues can form a group to meet on a semi-regular basis outside of work. Rather than a formal group therapy session, maybe grab a coffee or even fire up the grill and de-stress from work. ** Chautauqua Crisis Helpline Crisis Helpline: 1-800-724-0461 - 24 Hour Crisis Phone Intervention Information & Referral **Mental Health Services - Dunkirk 366-6125 **Mental Health Services - Jamestown 661-1590 **UPMC Chautauqua Outpatient Mental Health 664-8641 **UPMC Chautauqua Dunkirk Health Center 363-0018 **The Chautauqua Center Dunkirk 363-6050 ** The Chautauqua Center Jamestown 484-4334
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