City of Toronto

Coping with Stress

Coping with stress and depression
When we refuse to face up to problems, or even admit to ourselves and others that they exist, our worrying often results in physical ailments. Headaches, stomach disorders, insomnia, skin rashes, high blood pressure and ulcers are just some of the symptoms associated with serious depression and long-term stress.

The feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and despair that accompany severe depression and long-term stress can lead to misuse of medication, drugs and alcohol, chain-smoking, overeating and other unhealthy practices - "solutions" that in the end only heighten the amount of tension we feel.

It's easy to overlook or underestimate signs of depression and stress in ourselves and in others. Mood changes, of course, are quite normal. Even a certain amount of stress is healthy. But when feeling "down" becomes so extreme that it can't be shaken off, it shows in a loss of confidence in our abilities to the point where we can no longer function in our jobs and at home, then we need help in lifting our emotional burden.

Professional counselling available through EAP
The City of Toronto, the Toronto Fire Services and members of the Toronto Fire Fighters' Association, Local 3888, IAFF, recognize that an employee, or a member of an employee's family, can develop personal problems that are not directly associated with the employee's job performance or health.

Problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, emotional stress, martial, family or job-related concerns, and financial or legal difficulties, can be successfully resolved, provided that they are identified early, and referral is made to an appropriate care and treatment centre of professional counselling service.

Management and Local 3888 support the Employee Assistance Program to aid in identifying such problems, and to provide an appropriate referral to a capable and professional resource.

The EAP Members are people like you - people who care
A group of dedicated and understanding volunteers make the Employee Assistance Program work. These referral consultants, as they are known, donate their time to help fellow union members and their families. While all have undergone training to prepare them for this important task, they are not psychiatrists, marriage consultants, financial advisors or social workers. As their title implies, their primary function is to provide a concerned and nonjudgmental ear, and to make sure that those who ask for and need professional counselling know were to turn. As firefighters, they understand the unique strains and pressures that come with the job, and how they affect family and loved ones.

A free, confidential service open to all Local 3888 members
The Employee Assistance Program is available to all members of Toronto Fire Fighters' Local 3888 and their families. There is no charge for the service. In most cases, union-negotiated health benefits defray the costs associated with referral to professional services. If the recommended treatment or assistance is not covered by the health care plan, every effort is made to secure an affordable alternative. The referral consultant will listen to you, and recommend an agency or specialist that can help with your problem. All interviews, referrals and follow-up sessions are absolutely confidential. You are not required to take the referral consultant's advice. But if you do, they will offer to follow your progress; you can count on their support and guidance for however long it takes to work out your difficulties.

Employees who seek help through the EAP do not jeopardize their job security or promotional opportunities. Safeguards are in place to ensure the anonymity of employees who voluntarily seek assistance. EAP referral consultants maintain the privacy and dignity of those who come to them seeking help.

Who to turn to for assistance
Family, close friends, a physician, priests, rabbi or ministers are traditionally the people we turn to when we feel we're losing life's struggle. If this kind of help is unsuccessful, unsuitable or unavailable, then the referral consultants of the Employee Assistance Program are only a phone call away: 416-338-9EAP (9327).

Let the EAP Consultants lend a helping hand
Don't ignore the physical and emotional warning signs associated with stress and depression. Talk to your EAP consultant. Their support and encouragement may provide the perspective you need to solve your problems. If together you can't overcome difficulties, they will help you find the best professional assistance, and be there should you need them.

Where to call for assistance
For further information or help, call any of the EAP referral consultants at the numbers listed at Fire Stations or other Toronto Fire Services' work locations.

All questions concerning the Employee Assistance Program should be directed to the program's director.

If an EAP consultant cannot be reached, a message can be relayed by calling 416-338-9000 (Toronto Fire Services, Communications Division).

Correspondence should be marked "confidential" and addressed to either a specific EAP consultant or to the:

Toronto Fire Services Peer Support Team
c/o 4330 Dufferin Street (Lynn Pezzelato)
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 1A6

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