THEY are the people who do incredibly high-stress jobs in our community, jobs that need to be done.
This undoubtedly takes a toll on personal well-being, State Emergency Service assistant chief officer Stephen Warren says.
Awareness and understanding on the importance of mental health is improving across the state after what Mr Warren said was shown in a strong response rate from staff to a national beyondblue survey.
But there was still much to be done and that was why Mr Warren said events like Walking Off the War Within were an important opportunity to step out with other emergency service and military personnel, and family, to acknowledge the work they do affects them.
These are not normal careers and that takes its toll on you...You don't always know what the war is within each person, and what their struggles are.Stephen Warren, SES assistant chief officer and regional manager
"We all have to cope in some way and sometimes that is just never-ending,” Mr Warren said.
“An important part of this walk is for a lot more people to know about this and encourage people to come forward when they need help.
“We’re all at different stages of coping and there will always be ones who feel they are at the point they can’t cope – they’re the ones we really need to make sure get the right help.”
Mr Warren has been on SES staff for about 30 years in what is predominantly a volunteer organisation.
He said SES members were regularly involved in road crash rescue and retrieving deceased persons, including those who died by suicide.
It is the faces Mr Warren remembers.
Natural disasters, like floods, were also incredibly testing times, Mr Warren said, with the pressure to try and help people in acute stress.
Mr Warren has worked alongside former military personnel and police, including some from Scotland Yard in London and the Queen’s Guard.
“They have unbelievable history and what they’ve done is incredible. What they’ve seen we’d never understand,” Mr Warren said. “But we’re all different and you don’t always know what the person next to you is going though.”
Walking Off the War Within will launch its annual campaign later this week.
If you or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
The event started two years ago as an army of people took to Victoria Park to honour Ballarat-raised firefighter and former soldier Nathan Shanahan, who took his own life in December 2016.
Shanahan had been a fierce advocate in rallying attention to those silently struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. A year before his death, Nathan had walked 400-kilometres for the cause.
Walking Off the War Within events will be held in Ballarat, Canberra, Kalgoorlie in March and across the Northern Territory in early May.
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