One police officer, paramedic or firefighter takes their own life every six weeks.
It is estimated that 800,000 Australians are currently living with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). Ten per cent of current Emergency Services personnel are living with PTS, and this figure would be considerably higher if it included those who are retired and medically discharged.
PTS costs the economy at $1.5 million per diagnoses, but the real price is the one paid by the family members of our frontline. Strong relationships are the greatest protective factor for the prevention of PTS and suicide. The support provided by family members can be the difference between life and death.
So, who supports those who support our frontline?
Emergency Services Health has chosen to sponsor Alongside to help the families of emergency services. Being a not-for-profit organisation, and having similar core values, Alongside stands beside the partners and families of Australia’s frontline.
Alongside works closely with relevant organisations, personnel and their partners to close the gap in support through an integrated and comprehensive proactive approach to services and education surrounding frontline life and the stressors it can bring.
Using evidence based research and best practice frameworks from across the world, Alongside works proactively to upskill partners and families to strengthen the support platform for frontline personnel, enabling early intervention and treatment of mental health difficulties.
Each program offered by Alongside has been specifically tailored to the distinct needs of Emergency Service organisations. Addressing concerns such as organisational structure, family and external support, work / life balance, stress, trauma and PTS.
Frontline personnel are faced with periods of transition throughout career which create unique challenges for partners and families. Emergency Service personnel complete mandatory country postings, transition through stations on a regular basis and are often required to undertake short notice travel. Defence personnel can post-in to a different base every two to three years, are regularly deployed in an operational capacity away from home for months at a time and can be crash posted to operational assignments with a few hours’ notice.
Partners and families have little control over life changes relating to service and deployments. Frequent relocations can lead to feelings of isolation and social upheaval, as well as difficulties creating and maintaining friendships. These transitions are identified as one of the greatest sources of relationship conflict.
Alongside recognises the importance of educating partners and families through these transition periods, including providing incidental support and social opportunities after relocation.
As a nation, it is time we started normalising discussions around mental health on the frontline.
Wherever life may take our frontline, Alongside will be there from recruitment through to discharge and beyond. To stand beside the families, who stand beside our frontline
Emergency Services Health proud sponsor Alongside, with a shared interest in supporting the health and wellbeing of the emergency services community. “Because every person protecting Australia deserves a family, their health & their life”