Emergency service workers are urged to speak up about their mental health, in a bid to alleviate the impact of the trauma they face in the course of their jobs.
Bendigo resident and retired mobile intensive care ambulance (MICA) paramedic Julie Scollary is on the committee of the Code 9 Foundation, a non-profit organisation that supports professional first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder and their families, and raises awareness of PTSD and other mental illnesses.
The charity's work includes facilitating peer support groups, linking workers in with other services where necessary, sponsoring assistance dogs, and education.
"We encourage people to now talk openly about what's happened - not keeping their bucket full to the point of overflowing," Julie said.
She said there was a stigma surrounding mental health issues in emergency service workers because it was a line of work they had chosen, but she stressed that it was OK for people to speak up when they were having difficulties.
Around one in 10 emergency service workers in Australia have symptoms consistent with PTSD and there are similar rates of depression and anxiety symptoms.
Julie is among those who have experienced mental health struggles.
An accumulation of events during her career resulted in her admission to a mental health clinic in 2005, as she struggled with depression and high levels of anxiety.
With a lot of support, she said, she was able to return to work, but last year started to see "leaks in the bucket" again and decided to retire from the job she loved after 23 years.
"I think it's about recognising what's going on for you as an individual... and awareness that injuries do happen to us, and they're not just physical," Julie said.
She said it was important that emergency service workers knew they were never alone.
The message is especially timely in the Bendigo area, where emergency service workers have attended a spate of tragic incidents in recent weeks.
To support its work, the Code 9 Foundation is running a fundraising challenge throughout October.
Participants sign up for $20 and aim to take at least 9000 steps each day of the month.
To participate in the 000 - 9000 challenge and raise money for the Code 9 Foundation, visit the organisation's website.