Mental health has become a buzzword in recent years. Whether we are talking about teenagers who spend too much time on their phones or veterans dealing with PTSD, the discussion of psychological wellbeing is more open than ever before. Schools, businesses, and even television shows are making it a priority to open up about what affects our minds. Unfortunately, some of the most vulnerable groups of people are still in the shadows when it comes to understanding mental health.
Firefighters, along with other first responders, experience traumatic events as a part of their jobs. Encountering destruction, injuries, and death impacts them more than most people will ever know. These traumas can cause PTSD, a mental health condition that often shows itself in nightmares, having a hard time sleeping, feeling on edge, anger, and other stress-related reactions. It’s important to understand that the job of a firefighter can literally change the way a person’s brain responds to even everyday situations, not to mention another call to the field.
Putting People First
Firefighters are not just adrenaline junkies who would rather risk their safety for a heroic story than step back when the situation is too much to handle. In many cases, first responders have no choice but to fight every instinct to run and instead go towards danger in order to save another person’s life or belongings. Knowing what we do know about PTSD and the mental health of our first responders, fire departments are putting more of an effort into looking at their teams as people first, not just employees. Offering and encouraging the use of mental health services is a game changer for so many of our firefighters.
Knowledge is Power
A lot of people, firefighters included, have never been given the words to express what is going on in their minds after a traumatic experience. It was sometimes written off as weakness, but oftentimes just not discussed at all. Even though mental health resources have been available for a long time, many first responders simply haven’t known that it is what they needed. Now that more and more people are sharing how different traumas have affected them and what resources they turned to for help, those caught between not knowing and not feeling safe to share are empowered to seek out mental health services.
We know there is still a long way to go towards providing firefighters with the mental health resources they need. As the new year goes on and more first responders are able to express what they need, we are certain fire stations will continue to adapt to what their teams need.
What are you doing to make your fire station more aware of mental health issues and resources? Let us know on Facebook!
American Firehouse Furniture is a firefighter owned company and we invest a lot of time and energy into researching what can be done to make a more efficient, happier, and healthier workplace. Our products are built with firefighters as the focus. Browse our catalog today to see our words in action.