Firefighter Steve Jones on the merits of The Working Mind First Responders course
When firefighter Steve Jones first completed his course to become a trainer for The Working Mind First Responders (TWMFR), he was encouraged to share some of what he’d learned with his crew.
“What I thought would be a 15-minute conversation turned into three hours,” said Jones, an acting platoon chief with the Burlington Fire Department. “Guys opened up about serious mental health problems in their families and in themselves, things that I had no idea were going on. That was the moment it hit me — we all know someone who’s struggling.”
TWMFR, which has recently been updated and adapted to a virtual format (until in-person learning can safely return), is designed to build awareness, reduce stigma, strengthen resilience, and encourage mental health conversations among first responders.
Participants are introduced to tools like the colour-coded mental health continuum to increase self-awareness, as well as to coping strategies and resources to better support themselves and each other.
Jones notes that while the material is deceptively simple, its impact extends far beyond the classroom. “Trajectory is one of the most important concepts. One short conversation about mental health, or the moment of courage it takes to say “I need help,” can alter someone’s trajectory forever. That’s what makes this course so powerful.”