First responders protect and care for our communities. The work they do is vitally important, but it is also often confronting, traumatic and dangerous.
We know that more than half of all emergency responders are deeply impacted by the traumas they face in the course of their duties:
- 1 in 3 first responders experience high psychological distress from trauma experienced on the job.
- The first responder community has higher rates of psychological distress, higher rates of diagnosis for mental health conditions, and higher rates of suicidal thinking and planning than the general adult population.
- First responders are more than twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts and to experience high psychological distress.
- The devastating Black Summer Bushfires of 2019/20, not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic compounds people’s trauma exposure.
- Family members of first responders feel it all too through vicarious trauma.
These are big problems. Fortem is part of the solution.
Through our co-founders’ previous work at Soldier On, we saw first-hand how veterans and their families benefited from social connection and mental health support. Families told us that this support saved their relationships; veterans said it saved their lives.
It became clear that first responder families need similar support, provided in a way that serves the unique challenges they face.
Fortem was founded to provide specialised wellbeing and mental fitness support to first responder families.
We were established in mid-2019 to fill a need for first responders and their families. The devastating Black Summer bushfires in 2019-2020, and the associated trauma endured by first responder families, further intensified the need for urgent mental health and wellbeing support for these members of our community.
We are a national not-for-profit organisation with a community approach.
We use research and best practice to develop wellbeing activities, community engagement and psychological support that support the mental health and wellbeing of the people who work in our national security and emergency responder communities. This means supporting their families too.
We operate with a family-first approach.
Family members are dealing with things like shift work, lone parenting, worry about their loved one at work, not to mention the impact of the first responder’s stress or trauma. All of these things can take a toll on the family unit.
We exist to connect first responder families together, to create healthier, more resilient families.