New online program for family and friends supporting the mental health of Australia’s paramedics
Paramedics play an essential and irreplaceable role in our community and are regularly ranked as one of the most trusted professions in Australia. But due to the high stress work with exposure to trauma, long and shifting work hours and low rates of help-seeking – they are nearly twice as likely as the general population to experience mental ill-health.
Most of the practical and emotional support for Australia’s 21,000 registered paramedics is provided by family and friends. This role is vital and often fulfilling but can also be challenging and affect the caregivers’ own time, finances and emotions, and there have traditionally been limited resources available to equip and support them.
“Paramedics do an incredible job supporting Australians in their times of greatest need but there’s no doubt that their role can be stressful, and that’s before you add recent events such as COVID-19 and natural disasters,” says Everymind Program Manager and Clinical Psychologist, Dr Sally Fitzpatrick.
“These unique challenges faced by paramedics mean that they experience higher levels of psychological distress, trauma, PTSD and suicidal behaviour, and they generally turn to family and friends as their primary support.
“Family and friends of course want to help but may feel overwhelmed, worried or unsure of what they should say or do.”
To help support family and friends of paramedics Everymind has developed a new, free online program and is currently seeking participants to help test it.
The Minds Together
program for family and friends supporting the mental health of paramedics aims to improve support for people who love, live with, or care for a paramedic who is experiencing any symptoms of mental ill-health or suicidal distress.
The online program is self-paced and interactive and helps build the skills, knowledge and confidence of participants to support their family and friends and look after themselves. It provides practical ways to find out more about mental ill-health and suicidal distress, strengthen coping, communication skills and relationships, reduce stress and worry and connect with other people supporting a family member or friend.
The program is funded by Movember (through the Veterans and First Responders Mental Health Grant Program, provided through a collaboration between Movember and The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride).The goal of the funding is to validate the benefits of the program and evaluate its effectiveness.
Family and friends can take part in the research trial of the new online program by visiting mindstogether.org.au.