First thing’s first: first responder mental health is important all the time, not just today. However, given the global pandemic that swept over our world almost two years ago, it’s safe to say that our frontline workers and health professionals deserve the spotlight for their sheer dedication and hard work. However, their mental health is unfortunately overlooked by the community and even first responders themselves.
Just in case you weren’t aware of how important the health of our first responders is, we’re going to spell it out for you. Keep reading for staggering stats, inspiring insight, and some compelling bits of common sense.
Who Are First Responders?
When we say first responder mental health, we’re talking about the wellbeing of our emergency medical technicians, firefighters, police officers, and paramedics. You know, the motivated men and women who, in the face of a deadly and contagious virus, put the community’s health before their own. They owned the responsibility of ensuring that the sick and vulnerable were taken care of over the past two years. In return, it is important to recognize and address the physical and mental stress this has put on our first responders.
What Is It Like Working As A First Responder?
Stressful. Of course, working as a first responder is an honorable role. Being able to help people stay happy and healthy must be an especially rewarding experience. The community relies on their first responders to take care of them when they need them, even in a global pandemic.
See how this can be immensely stressful? Despite a first responder’s passion, their mental health can take quite a toll. Being constantly exposed to trauma and stressors have a startling impact. Often, first responders aren’t aware of their suffering mental health until it’s too late. And as is the case with many proud and passionate workers, it’s hard to ask for help.
The Struggle of Seeking Help
Many police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and first responders endure posttraumatic stress disorder for months, even years, before seeking help. This fear of expressing their own mental health concerns often leads to tragic results.
Did you know that 30 percent of first responders develop mental health conditions such as depression and PTSD? Compare this to the general population at 20 percent and you can clearly see the disparity in mental health conditions.
However, the statistics get even bleaker.
It is estimated that between 125 and 200 police officers commit suicide every year. First responders’ duties, although essential to the entire community, are strenuous and put them at an increased risk of trauma.
For this reason, first responder mental health needs to be not only acknowledged but most importantly taken care of.
How Can We Help With First Responder Mental Health?
Simply put: we need to provide them with support. This starts with changing the culture.
There is still a stigma of mental health within first responding professionals that needs to be addressed. First responders need to understand the effects their job has on mental health. Most importantly, the community they serve needs to raise awareness of first responder mental health and provide them with the tools and strategies they need to effectively cope.
But what kind of methods work?
Consider Yoga For First Responders
What about yoga? Yoga is a powerful art form that anyone can learn. Through participating in yoga, first responders are able to process their stress, build mental, physical, and emotional resilience, and even enhance their job performance.
Sounds too good to be true right? Well, it’s not!
The community can even get in on it too! Individuals can be trained as yoga instructors to spread mental health support to first responders all over the world.
Ready to Support First Responder Mental Health?
Reach out to Yoga for First Responders to get started! Our non-profit organization provides yoga training that is job-specific and culturally informed. Whether you’re a first responder interested in providing yoga training for your team, or a supporter who wants to learn how to instruct first responder yoga yourself, we have the training and programs you need.
Together we can raise awareness of first responder mental health, and support our EMTs, police officers, and firefighters in processing stress and improving their health. Contact our team today!