SEOUL, Sept. 8 (Korea Bizwire) – In an effort to help ease the extreme levels of stress that firefighters face, the Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters and the Ewha Brain Institute at Ewha Womans University have signed a business agreement that will promote the mental health of firefighters.
More specifically, the agreement encompasses the systematic tracking and research of brain diseases in firefighters, and brain health studies following their demanding shift duties, alongside the development of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention programs for brain illness from exposure to extreme conditions.
The mental health of Korean firefighters has recently become an issue of concern, with many calling for government intervention to provide support for some of the most essential civil servants in society.
In a 2014 study by the Ewha Brain Institute, 39 percent (14,452) of the 37,093 firefighters surveyed were found to be suffering from at least one of the following conditions – PTSD, depressive disorders, sleep disorders and problem drinking.
In addition, a more recent study by the Ministry of Public Safety and Security revealed that 64 firefighters committed suicide over the past decade (2006 – 2015) with 12 coming in 2015 alone, whereas 49 were killed in the line of duty.
“The latest agreement comes as part of new efforts to improve the wellbeing of firefighters who have a high probability of developing mental health problems, and exposure to IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) Group 1 Carcinogens and toxic gas, which can lead to cerebrovascular diseases and rare illnesses in the nervous system,” said a city official.
The partnership, after the accumulation of related academic research and studies, is also expected to help firefighters prove the relationship between their diseases and their occupation, which is currently required in order for the illnesses to be categorized as resulting from officially-recognized occupational hazards.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)