National Firefighter Health Week: Head Strong

Monday, 16 August 2010

It’s National Firefighter Health Week, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) wants to help you keep your heart, mind, and body strong. We encourage you to use this week to focus on your overall wellbeing and start making the healthy lifestyle choices that will keep you strong all year long.

Each day this week, the NVFC is providing tips and tools to help you focus on the daily health topic. The five focus topics this year are behavioral health, personal protective equipment (PPE), heart-health, cancer, and nutrition and fitness. Find more resources and tools in the National Firefighter Health Week Resource Center at www.healthy-firefighter.org/healthweek.

Remember, only you can keep it strong. Are you up for the Challenge?

Monday, August 16: Head Strong

Taking care of your mental health is as important as managing your physical health. Start creating a culture that makes behavioral health a priority in your department today.

Quick Tips:

  • Make sure to get a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can add to a greater feeling of stress, as well as lowering your immune system which makes you susceptible to physical illness. Make sleep a priority.
  • Know your risk factors for mental illness. You may already have a family history of physical illness; try to find out if anyone in your family has suffered from a mental disorder as well. Knowing your risk makes it possible to seek help early if you start feeling depressed, anxious, or not like yourself.
  • Look out for each other. Is one member of your department working long hours, under a lot of stress, or drinking more heavily than usual? Be accountable for each other and don’t be afraid to ask that person if you can help.
Activity Ideas:
  • Encourage your department members to play: organize a group game, like softball or touch football. Group activities build camaraderie, which can reduce stress, and exercise produces endorphins, which improve mood.
  • Distribute information in your department about mental health issues for firefighters and how to seek help if they need it. Someone might have questions but don’t know who to ask. Find information to share here.
  • Take an online mental health assessment from Screening for Mental Health. It’s free, confidential, and can help you get back on track.
  • Watch the Working with Stress video from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The video describes workplace factors that can create or exacerbate worker stress, and suggests practical measures for reducing job-related stress through changes in work organization.
Article Links:
National Volunteer Fire Council:
Firehouse.com:
Fire Department Network News:
FireChief.com:
CNN Health:

Quote of the Day:

“In a disordered mind, as in a disordered body, soundness of health is impossible.”

– Cicero

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