Beginning an In-depth Conversation
Join your hosts Austin Pederson and Chief Josh Adams for their inaugural podcast as they talk about mental health and addiction in the first responder space.
Why It's Important To Talk About Mental Health
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), roughly 1 in 3 first responders develop PTSD. 2 In comparison, the incidence of PTSD in the general population is 1 in 5 people.
Over time, chronic exposure to these types of high-stress situations can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders (PTSD) or symptoms of PTSD. Unaddressed, these painful experiences can lead to sleep disturbances, painful flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbness, and addiction.
How & Why to Talk About First Responder Mental Health
One reason to tell family and friends about your mental illness is to receive encouragement. Simply talking to someone sympathetic can reduce your stress level and improve your mood. You may also want to ask for concrete support, like help finding treatment or rides to appointments.
By telling the right people and suggesting ways for loved ones to help, you can start building a strong social support network. At first, you might be afraid to talk about your experiences. But don't give up looking for support and encouragement from others. You'll discover that many people want to help you.
You don't have to share everything. Decide in advance what parts of your experience you'll talk about and what parts you won't. Stand by your decision. It's perfectly understandable to answer a question with a statement like “I'd rather not talk about that right now.”
Make sure to share the good things. Explain how your illness has taught you new things, or about experiences you were able to have in spite or, or because of, your illness.
Set boundaries. Be clear with people about when you want their advice and when you just want them to listen. Also realize that people come with their own opinions, informed and otherwise, so be patient when explaining. If they try to discredit you, gently remind them that you are the one living with the illness, and you know yourself best.
Let them know how they can support you. Everyone has different needs, and different people respond in different ways. Think about your needs ahead of time, and about whether this person can support you, if there are resources that would help her or him understand what you're going through, or if she or he says no. Some people may not be able to handle disclosure, so it may be difficult to expect support from them. However, there are many people who will probably feel honored that you shared this with them, and whom will be happy to do what they can.
Provide them information after you talk to them. Pamphlets and books are a good place to start. NAMI is an excellent web resource, and is home to a number of programs that are great places for people to meet and socialize while learning about mental illness.
Current Problems Emergency Responders Face
Accelerating changes in training and best practices amidst time constraints.
Increased risk of burnout and behavioral or mental illness.
Loss of knowledge and skill over time.
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New episodes coming soon!