Emotional Scars Still Haunt Firefighters Months After Deadly Blaze
But they say they are reluctant to seek mental health help.
After A Horrific Blaze, Oakland Firefighters Confront Lasting Emotional Scars
Many Oakland firefighters told STAT they are still struggling with the emotional fallout from that night six months ago. But few have sought mental health treatment, because of stigma within the department, combined with a limit on free counseling sessions provided by the city. Now the Ghost Ship fire has become a catalyst for change in the Oakland Fire Department, where Robertson, a 54-year-old lieutenant and the president of the Oakland firefighters union, and other firefighters are pushing to create a peer counseling program. Firefighters in general are at high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide, and that has spurred firefighters in numerous cities to demand that their mental health be treated as urgently as any other injury sustained on the job. (Rosenbaum, 6/2)