After reflecting on that decision and the experience, he and his family have been strongly considering leaving the Sarsfield area to escape the bushfire risk and hopefully never endure that again.
“I never want to put my family through that again,” he said.
At the time, while the experience was frightening, Glenn didn’t think it had a serious impact on his mental health and chalked it up as being ‘another day in the life of a firefighter’.
Six months later, it was at a regional CFA mental health session that he realised he’d suffered a traumatic mental burden as a result of his work around the devastating fires, the lead up to the fire season and the impact the fires had on his property.
“During the session they showed a video of a firefighter who worked through the Marysville fires,” Glenn said.
“The firefighter said after the experience he had feelings of failure - like he had failed.
“In that moment it hit me – it was exactly how I felt; I felt I had failed myself and my family.”
Glenn left the room and a CFA peer coordinator approached him and started the conversation about how he was feeling.
“I’m lucky I was able to identify it and seek help,” he said.
“Looking back, the mental anguish I went through in the lead up to the fires was too much and I wish I’d caught it sooner.
“I’ve always had that typical ‘middle-aged man’ attitude toward mental health and tried not to show my emotions.
He said it is so important for people to understand that despite what you were taught growing up and even if you’re not comfortable with the topic of mental health, “it’s okay to not be okay”.
“If there’s one thing I’d say to any bloke out there, it is that it’s okay to drop the masculine ‘it’ll be alright’ attitude around mental health,” he said.
“You don’t have to put on a brave face.
“If you aren’t feeling yourself, reach out to someone you trust – whether it’s a family or friend, a mental health wellbeing service or the CFA Wellbeing Support Line if you’re a CFA member.
“Don’t let it get to a point where you think there isn’t a way out, there are people out there who can support you.”
Today is R U OK? Day, which is a national reminder to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times
This year’s theme is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’, in response to research revealing 22% of Australians aren’t reaching out because they don’t think someone needs their help.
CFA acknowledges that between the damaging bushfires of 2019-20 and the pandemic, the past two years have been tough for everyone in our Victorian communities. That is why it is so important for Victorians and our CFA volunteers to stay connected and feel supported.
Those interested in learning more about R U OK? Day, visit the website at www.ruok.org.au.