For those in the fire and rescue field, traumatic events are par for the course. While it can be rewarding to help those in need, that work can take a toll. Maintaining good mental health is essential to performing at your best and keeping you from taking the stressors home with you when the day is done.
Concern has grown about mental health issues in first responders, including stress, depression, addiction and PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a collection of symptoms that can occur after experiencing or witnessing trauma. As firefighters, we often say that we see things that no one should see. But we do see them and there are consequences.
Typical symptoms include intrusive thoughts like flashbacks and nightmares; avoidance behaviors, for example, avoiding discussions of the incident or avoiding the location; and alteration in general mood, with more negative emotions, like anger, lack of trust, and apathy. Severe cases can result in significant depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and suicide.
There are many programs to assist with any of these mental health conditions.
This video helps first responders and family members recognize the symptoms of five common behavioral health issues and where they can turn to for help.