The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, is one of the few departments that does offer mental health services for its employees. However, the stigma associated with asking for help is so great that Deputy Chief Mike Ming, who leads Cal Fire’s employee support services, makes sure to drive an unmarked vehicle, not wear his uniform and convene somewhere neutral such as a coffee shop when meeting with employees who may need assistance. Even then, firefighters are often resistant to discuss their feelings.
“It comes from a history of a suck-it-up attitude, because that’s just what we do,” Ming said in an interview with Vice. “We’re not awesome at tapping into emotions, and we can store a whole career’s worth.”