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BEHAVIORAL HEALTH - MICK HANNAN

PEER SUPPORT

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Greetings! In this edition of The KT, I would like to write about a topic that is swirling around the conversations of Peer Support Coordinators, Mental Health Professionals, and the behavioral wellness community in general. I am talking about resiliency.

Webster defines resilience as, “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Firefighters are tough. We walk into burning buildings, operate heavy equipment, perform life-saving measures, and are exposed to a great deal of physical strain. We spend months and years of our lives training so that, when the call comes in, we are ready to jump into action.

But what about the mental strain? Do we have psychological resilience? Psychologists define psychological resilience as, “…resilience that exists in people who develop psychological and behavioral capabilities that allow them to remain calm during crises/chaos and to move on from the incident without long-term negative consequences.” Are we spending months and years of our lives training to be mentally prepared for what we see and are exposed to? Do we even know how to train for it? Take a closer look. It says, “people who develop.” This means that we can acquire, improve, or build on this resiliency that will help us in coping with the stressful, sometimes horrific things that we are exposed to from shift to shift.

So, how do we build resilience? In researching this concept, I have come across quite a few different theories or plans. One that I think applies to our walk of life is from Dr. Naomi Baum. She breaks down how we can build resilience into four steps.

Step One:

Self-awareness and understanding of your own stress level. To start, take an inventory of your stress level. What stresses do you have in your life? Check out where your stresses occur. Are they mostly at work? At home? Somewhere else? Of course, none of this will change the stresses in your life, but mapping them out can help you become more aware of what is going on in your life and examine what you might change and what you cannot.

Step Two:

The second step in building resilience is learning how to communicate. Learning how to reach out and talk to family members about how you are feeling and what is going on in your life and learning to listen to them can go a long way toward strengthening existing social networks. Firefighters often have difficulty sharing their work life with their life partners. They often feel that nobody outside of the station house can actually understand them. Learning how to break down those barriers and share with the important people in your life can create a sense of support that is invaluable.

Step Three:

Examining how you normally cope with stress and adversity and expanding on those existing strengths and resources comprise the third step in resilience building. What do you do when the going gets tough? Most people have a preferred method of dealing with stress or hard times. For some, it is physical like going for a run or taking a bath. For others, it may be reaching out to a friend. Some get lost in a book or watch a movie. Trying out new ways of coping and finding new hobbies and activities that you enjoy are important steps in resilience building. The more resources you have at your fingertips, the better off you are. Beware of the quick fix of alcohol or drugs. Often, the use of alcohol or drugs quickly turns into abuse and further exacerbates existing problems.

Step Four:

The fourth step in resilience building is finding meaning. Firefighters can easily find meaning in the hard work they do saving lives, but they may have a harder time understanding the tragedies that they encounter over the course of their careers. Finding a way to talk about the existential dilemmas they face that may include feelings of helplessness and crisis in belief can be an important part of resilience building.

Spending time on the four essential steps will lead you to the road of resilience. This takes both time and attention, but the results are well worth it. Working on this with a co-worker or someone at home can help to keep you mentally prepared and in a state of fitness for whatever life has in store.

Take care of each other,

Mick


CISD/Peer Support Information

LBFD Peer Support Members


A. Anderson 805-901-8525

J. Arnold 619-279-7750

A. Behrens 760-413-5906

B. Cheng 626-497-2987

J. Cash 562-279-4954

S. Dixon 562-685-3102

S. Fagan 562-229-2042

P. Gonsal 626-483-5806

M. Hannan 909-725-3806

B. Hunter 562-708-0823

K. Kacoullas 562-787-0386

N. Markouizos 562-822-6126

C. Milburn 714-420-8167

G. Newman 562-833-9388

J. Ohs 909-214-8083

K. Scott 714-269-5558

E. Smith 562-233-6836

T. Taylor 562-644-3310

R. Ward 562-754-0499

C. Abel 562-810-2311

J. Breeden 323-972-6888

D. Carey 562-822-9729

D. Cureton 562-230-5355

M. Dobberpuhl 562-858-5394

C. Duffy 951-552-3262

J. Fraser 562-799-0807

R. Grego 714-553-9151

W. Haller 562-889-0707

L. Hill 951-553-8062

N. Kay 909-471-9075

B. Mauga 949-874-1122

M. Mackenzie 949-637-3873

W. Nash 562-400-5310

C. Robnett 323-291-4342

B. Sher 951-704-5450

D. Torres 909-680-9092

E. Volivitch 714-742-5783

A. Zintsmaster 310-936-3874

M. Aguirre 949-637-5051

C. Brown 562-450-4488

P. Cheek 562-673-6562

J. Crabtree 562-833-2182

Jn. Davis 562-743-9247

B. Fisk 562-884-3327

D. Garrett 562-544-6823

J. Grimes 949-735-0945

J. Heflin 949-500-1224

B. Healy 714-421-0877

C. Lickhalter 310-406-7908

J. Moss 408-314-9120

R. Medina 619-248-0920

J. Owen 562-884-4948

K. Rindone 714-267-8772

A. Suarez 951-818-4219

C. Terhune 949-888-1109

T. Vasquez 909-921-6203


Professional Therapists

Dr. Duggan & Associates
(562) 433-7652
4137 E. 7th St
Long Beach, 90804

Dr. Gallivan
(310) 951-1282 or (714) 705-4618
10940 Wilshire Bl. #1600
Los Angeles, 90024

Dr. Klein
(714) 964-5779
21131 Binghampton Cir.
Huntington Beach, 92646


Employee Assistance Program

Mental Health Network offers six face-to-face, phone, or web-video sessions with licensed professionals in their network. Professionals can assist with:

Marriage, family, and relationship issues • Problems in the workplace • Stress, anxiety, and sadness • Grief, loss, or response to traumatic events • Concerns about your use of alcohol or drugs • Childcare and eldercare assistance • Financial services (budgeting, credit and financial questions, retirement planning) • Legal services (civil, consumer, and criminal law) • Identity theft recovery • Daily living services • Health & wellness coaching

Anyone who resides in the employee’s home is eligible for EAP services through MHN.


LBFD Chaplains

Duaine Jackson
Firefighters for Christ
(714) 675-3066

Tommy Hunter
His Place Church
(714) 271-9380

Tim Buzbee
Life Center Church
(562) 866-9078