Wildland firefighters are disproportionately affected by depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicide and other mental health struggles. There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest are quite simple: wildland firefighting is a high-stress job that takes firefighters away from their families for months at a time and often doesn't come with appropriate pay or benefits given the sacrifices that these folks make every summer. With that lack of benefits comes a severe lack of mental health resources and care for laid-off firefighters, resulting in something of a mental health epidemic for a seasonal workforce that grows more essential—and more exhausted—by the year. This episode dives into what these struggles look like from the perspective of currently laid-off seasonal firefighters, who each spoke about their individual challenges with mental health and wellness in their off seasons.
Firefighters included in this episode: Ben McLane (hotshot), Coleman Wilson (handcrew member), Gabby Casper (rappeller), Eddie Klemencic (hotshot), Kat Sullivan (hotshot) and Livi Hughes (British Columbia Fire Service crewmember).