Often times, the biggest barrier to seeking help is the attached stigma. A false belief that if “I need counseling, it means I’m weak or unfit to do the job.” As someone in a helping profession, you may feel that if you ask for help you are a burden because you are “supposed to be the strong one, the one who does the helping.” However, the brain can not process the amount of trauma a first responder experiences on it’s own. You shouldn’t have to suffer alone, there is no shame in asking for help.
The duties of first responders are not only physically strenuous, but often mentally too. Caring for the emotional and physical needs of others takes its toll. This exposure increases the risk of first responders to direct traumas and/or vicarious trauma, stress, and burn-out.
One of the core risk factors for first responders is the pace of their work. First responders are always on the front line facing highly stressful and risky calls. This tempo can lead to an inability to integrate work experiences. For instance, according to a study, 69 percent of EMS professionals have never had enough time to recover between traumatic events. As a result, depression, stress and posttraumatic stress symptoms, suicidal ideation, and a host of other functional and relational conditions have been reported.
The nature of the work of firefighters, including repeated exposure to painful and provocative experiences and erratic sleep schedules, can pose significant risk to firefighters’ mental health. To add to that risk, firefighters face many barriers to seeking help, including stigma and the cost of treatment. For instance, volunteer firefighters have greater structural barriers to use of mental health services (including cost, inadequate transportation, difficulty getting time off from work, and availability of resources) than career firefighters and the general population.
Police officers are at increased risk of negative mental health consequences due to the dangerous nature of their jobs as well as the greater likelihood that they experience critical incidents, environmental hazards, and traumatic events. In a study, about three-fourths of the surveyed officers reported having experienced a traumatic event, but less than half of them had told their agency about it. Additionally, about half of the officers reported personally knowing one or more law enforcement officers who changed after experiencing a traumatic event, and about half reported knowing an officer in their agency or another agency who had committed suicide.
No shame in needing help
Often times, the biggest barrier to seeking help is the attached stigma. A false belief that if “I need counseling, it means I’m weak or unfit to do the job.” As someone in a helping profession, you may feel that if you ask for help you are a burden because you are “supposed to be the strong one, the one who does the helping.” However, the brain can not process the amount of trauma a first responder experinces on it’s own. You shouldn’t have to suffer alone, there is no shame in asking for help.
You may feel broken or weak, but you are not. What you are experiencing is a normal and predictable human experience in response to something traumatic.
“They just don’t get me”
Maybe you have been to therapy before and felt misunderstood or judged. Almost as if the therapist just “didn’t get you.” This is common for many first responders and it is important that you are able to establish a therapeutic alliance with your therapist. Then and only then can the healing process begin.
As a former first responder, I am able to offer a connection and understanding without judgement that cannot be taught in class or read in a book.
First responders with PTSD need to look no further, Harmonia Wellness wants to help. We specialize in PTSD treatment for first responders in the Sarasota area.
3653 Cortez Road West
To make an appointment please call
Monday: 1:00pm - 6:00pm
Tuesday: 1:00pm - 8:00pm
Wednesday: 1:00pm - 9:00pm
Thursday: 1:00pm - 6:00pm