A FIREFIGHTER has bravely opened up about his own personal mental health struggles with the hope of encouraging others to seek support.

Ben Turner is the watch manager at Clacton Fire Station and is a traumatic risk management volunteer for the Essex Fire and Rescue Service.

He often provides essential support to his colleagues after they experience distressing situations, but Ben himself has recently sought help.

The firefighter reached out following a difficult year in which his close friend and former colleague Aston Everett, 54, died after collapsing while on duty.

The death of Aston, who was part of the Clacton Green Watch, had a life-shattering impact on Ben, but he was also battling other issues too.

“If it had been one thing, even though it was horrific, I probably would have worked through it,” added Ben.

“But with the accumulation of the things going on in my life, I said: ‘I am struggling to cope, now I need some help.’

“I was offered a counsellor and I took it up. It has made such a massive difference.

"It has helped me to get back to where I was before and built up my resilience.”


Ben believes people should care for their mental wellbeing in the same way they look after their physical health.

He added: “If you cut your arm you don’t think twice about asking for a first aider.

“With mental health, you can feel awful about the situation you perceive yourself to be in but carry on regardless - when I first speak to colleagues they say: ‘I’m all good’.

“But everybody has a ‘bucket’ where they put their worries and if you are not doing things to empty the bucket it spills over. It is easy to mask the fact you are not okay.

“Mental fitness is no different to physical fitness - the better your mental fitness is, the more easily you will cope with what life throws at you.”

Ben has decided to share his story as part of Mental Health Awareness Week to encourage people to talk about mental wellbeing.

He also hopes it will give more people the confidence to ask for support and remind others to keep an eye on their colleagues and loved ones.

He said: “Everybody has had moments, weeks, months or longer where they are finding life really challenging – do not be afraid to talk about it.

“I do not know anybody who has made things worse by saying: ‘I need some help here.'

“Be aware of changes in people’s tone or behaviour and ask them how they are feeling. If they say they are okay but do not sound like they are, just check again.

“Don’t be afraid to ask. They might not want to open up, but the fact you have shown you care goes a long way.”

If you are struggling with your mental health visit essex.gov.uk/mental-health/get-help-and-support.