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Manitoba offering mental health, resilience training to fire service

Course designed to reduce barriers to care, support employees experiencing a mental illness

Manitoba’s Office of the Fire Commissioner will soon be offering a program called The Working Mind First Responders to help members of the Manitoba Fire Service cope with the realities of work-related stress.

“Helping our first responders identify the stressors they may face and making sure they have the coping mechanisms to deal with that stress, is critical,” said Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen. “Emergency service personnel face trauma on a daily basis, and we want to ensure they have the skills to maintain resilience and keep coming back to do the important life-saving work they do.”

Under an agreement with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to deliver the train the trainer program, a specialty instructor network will be developed to deliver the half-day training sessions to members of the Manitoba Fire Service. The program will be available to all departments across the province. 

The course is designed to improve short-term performance and long-term mental health outcomes as well as reduce barriers and encourage access to care. It also provides tools to manage and support employees experiencing a mental illness and supports supervisors in maintaining their own mental health, the provincial government said.

“The mental well-being and resilience of our members has been identified as a priority by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs,” said Brad Yochim, fire chief, Wallace and District Fire Department, and president of the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs. “By making the TWMFR program available to all members of the Manitoba Fire Service, we will build on the strength of the existing Critical Incident Stress Management Network already in place to support our members.”

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