Medical and physical fitness have traditionally been prioritized above emotional or behavioral health in the fire service. But stresses faced by fire fighters and paramedics throughout the course of their careers can have a cumulative impact on mental health, physical health and overall well-being. The IAFF has made it a priority to ensure members struggling with substance abuse, addiction and other behavioral health problems receive the support and help they need.
Throughout the week, we are offering IAFF Recovery meetings and Behavioral Health Support Group sessions for delegates, as well as other resources for improved mental health.
- Yoga For First Responders (YFFR) is offered daily August 5-9 from 6:30-7:30 a.m. at the Westin Hotel. Classes are open to all delegates, alternates and guests. No experience or flexibility necessary. Yoga for First Responders is a safe and effective yoga protocol that is sensitive to the distinct stress IAFF members encounter on the job. Yoga is both a physical practice, as well as a mental training system that uses tactical breath work, physical conditioning and relaxation to achieve mastery over the psycho-physiological system.
- Formerly known as Friends of Bill, the IAFF Recovery meeting is for any IAFF member coping with or in recovery from an alcohol or substance abuse problem. This peer-led meeting provides supportive space for individuals to share their experience with other brothers and sisters interested in recovery. Recovery meetings are held daily August 5-8 in the Westin Hotel – see the Convention agenda for times.
- The IAFF Behavioral Health Support Group is for IAFF members who may be coping with behavioral health challenges, including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, sleep problems or challenging life stressors. Discussion will be co-facilitated by a seasoned trained peer and mental health clinician to explore signs and symptoms of emotional distress, stigma, building resilience through self-care and options for receiving help. The Behavioral Health Support Group meets in the Westin Hotel – see the Convention agenda for dates and times.
- Learn more about current IAFF behavioral health initiatives and helpful resources that educate and support members on behavioral health concerns, including the IAFF peer support program, behavioral health program, suicide prevention and how to find the right treatment providers at the IAFF Health and Safety boothin the Exhibit Hall.
- The Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery has helped more than 400 members on their road to recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety and other behavioral health issues. Developed in partnership with Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS), a leader in behavioral healthcare management, the IAFF Center of Excellence is the first treatment and recovery facility exclusively for IAFF members. The 64-bed facility, located on a 15-acre campus in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, is the first specialized treatment center dedicated to PTSD and co-occurring addictions offered in an environment that is both functional and therapeutic for IAFF members to aid in their recovery. Visit the Center of Excellence booth in the Exhibit Hall or visit IAFFRecoveryCenter.com.