With mental health concerns on the rise across the nation, the Billings Fire Department along with the Billings I.A.F.F. have come together to create a course on mental health for firefighters in the region.
Cameron Abell who is with the Billings Fire Department is closely associated with the program and likes that program was brought to Billings.
"Taking care of our firefighters physically is important but also taking care of their mental health is now one of the paramount things that they are focused on," says Abell. "So being able to partner with the local firefighter's union and the IAFF our administration has seen a benefit to it in keeping us healthy in the mental realm."
According to the Billings Fire Department, 19% of firefighters have considered suicide, 65% of firefighters have trouble sleeping and 77% of firefighters have unresolved mental issues to due PTSI or PTSD.
The course highlights the importance of firefighters being able to recognize if they are feeling signs of depression or other mental health issues.
Abell is hopeful that the course can eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health and firefighters.
Abell says "we had a culture before where you were tough and you were strong and you didn't show weakness. We are starting to realize that that is starting to push things down underneath the surface and this class is important to bring that to that to the surface where we can work on it and fix our firefighters."
Abell goes on to say that 22% of firefighters nationwide struggle with mental health issues and that there have been more police and firefighter suicides than line of duty deaths.