Nova Scotia enhances mental health support for volunteer firefighters, ground search and rescue
By Government of Nova ScotiaHeadlines News Health and Wellness firefighters mental health
Nov. 10, 2023, Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia’s volunteer firefighters and ground search and rescue teams are getting access to more mental health support.
The new Nova Scotia Firefighter and Ground Search and Rescue Volunteer Assistance Program is expected to give first responders and their families access to personal and family counselling, stress management, nutrition support and more.
Volunteer first responders are expected to have access to counselling by mental health clinicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a designated phone number starting next month. They will also be able to access PSPNET, a free online service that provides mental health and well-being support to public safety personnel experiencing challenges related to anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.
“Nova Scotians who volunteer to be firefighters do so because they want to help their neighbours, friends and family. They do this often without thinking about the potential for physical and emotional injury. Volunteer firefighters in this province have experienced a few very rough years, and this new program provides welcome support for those who need it,” said Greg Jones, president of the Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia.
The province said in a press release that services are similar to those offered through employee and family assistance programs for career first responders.
The service is part of a two-year pilot program with Telus Health that is expected to help the government better understand the mental health needs of volunteer firefighters and ground search and rescue volunteers. The province is investing $75,000 for the program.
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