Did you know 30 percent of first responders develop mental health conditions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), which is 10 percent higher than the general population?
More specifically, in May of 2018, the Department of Justice reported that an estimated 15 percent of police officers were suffering from PTSI.
Responding to critical incidents and disasters, especially during a time of civil unrest and amidst a pandemic, is placing our police officers at the forefront of depression, PTSI, substance abuse, and suicide ideation more than ever before.
“In a study, about three-fourths of surveyed officers reported having experienced a traumatic event, but less than half of them 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.”
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Still, in 2021 first responders face the stigma of reporting traumatic incidents and seeking assistance for mental health conditions.
In the field of public safety, it’s not “if” you come across a traumatic critical incident but a matter of “when.”
Here are a handful of tips that may help to prevent trauma from becoming PTSI.
Preventing trauma from becoming PTSI
As we mentioned above, a person who takes on a lifelong career as a police officer will likely endure some level of trauma when responding to a critical incident during their time of service.
While we cannot necessarily prevent trauma from occurring, we can work together to prevent trauma from becoming PTSI; now and in the future.
Here are six proactive tactics that can help ease the trauma and prevent it from becoming PTSI:
- Disclose the trauma to a loved one or colleague
- Don’t isolate yourself; continue contact with family and friends
- Practice grounding yourself via meditation
- Always aim to identify as a survivor, not a victim
- Find ways to help others in their healing process, like colleagues
- Practice mantras, such as “I will get better” and “I am powerful.”
It’s important that starting now, we allow ourselves to step into uncomfortable territory and normalize the expression of our mental wellness to those around us.
Remember, as a first responder, you have an entire community of people who love and support you through your entire journey towards wellness. We believe in you and hope these tips come in handy for you or a friend.
About First Responder Wellness
At First Responder Wellness, we guide those ready to take the path to recovery and wellbeing. We offer various programs within a community of others who know what it is like to be in the front lines. For more information on how we can assist you, call 888-443-4898.