A charitable group that aids firefighters with mental health issues reports that images from London’s deadly Grenfell Tower fire is triggering post-traumatic stress episodes in retired firefighters.
Doctor Jill Tolfrey, who is from the Fire Fighters Charity, told Sky that these mental health problems are “invisible injuries” and they are regularly “carried by firefighters in silence.”
She added that they can also “have far-reaching long-term consequences affecting families and family life and if ignored, potentially leading to depression, self-harm or even suicide.
“We had retired firefighters telephoning us, saying the events they had seen on television had stirred memories from when they were working … so the memories they take with them in their firefighting career actually go into retirement as well.”
One retired firefighter had to turn to the charity for help with his PTSD as it was taking too long to get help through the national health system. The 30-year veteran said the help most likely saved his life.
“I would definitely be self-harming now and there’s a reasonably good chance I would have committed suicide,” he said.
A recent report by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association found 41,000 shifts a year were lost in England and Wales due to mental health issues suffered by firefighters.