PROTECT EMERGENCY VOLUNTEER MENTAL HEALTH
SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
Researchers from Edith Cowan University released findings from a study examining the effects of the devastating 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires on the mental health and well-being of Australia’s incredible emergency workers.
Of the nearly 65,000 responders who helped during the Black Summer bushfires, 78% were volunteers. The data from the study revealed that 5.5% of volunteer firefighter participants had made suicide plans in the year following the fires. Nearly half reported living with post-traumatic stress symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety, with 11% having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Despite the significant impact on participants’ well-being, less than half had sought mental health support. The emotional and mental effects of overexposure to trauma cannot be underestimated.
A 2021 Surf Life Saving study into the mental health of adolescent surf life saver and lifeguards aged 13-17 by Central Queensland University also show SLS exposure to trauma and the correlation with higher indicators of PTSS (precursor for PTSD)
And with Beyond Blue reporting that one in three Emergency Service volunteers have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and those volunteers have twice as many suicidal thoughts as adults in the general population, the need to address this situation is urgent.
Emerge & See wants this to change.