The war within: Mental health issues in first responders.
Each Day, a select group of people wake up to answer the call of saving a stranger's life. These brave men and women put their own lives on the line to make sure that their community is safe each day. With the growing potential for traumatic events in daily life, the mental health crisis has been an increasing problem for first responders. First responders are experiencing mental health issues due to everyday job stressors therefore they should be given more resources to treat their mental health issues.
When people think of mental health issues most people think of PTSD undergraduate programs. PTSD is short for Post- traumatic stress disorder. PTSD effects many various parts of the brain but one of the most effected parts of the brain is the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the main source of memory. This part of the brain allows for a person to be able to recall their memories later. The hippocampus is also one of the most key players in PTSD. Another region of the brain effected by trauma is the amygdala, this region of the brain helps understand our feelings and process them so. According to Viatcheslav Wlassoff, “Hyperactivity of the amygdala is positively related to the severity of PTSD symptoms. The said developments explain the tell-tale signs of PTSD—startle responses to the most harmless of stimuli, frequent flashbacks, and intrusive recollections.” When first responders go into very intense situations such as vehicle crashes, suicides, and natural disaster's they may experience a lasting memory that can cause problems in their day to day lives. Some of the situations that these heroes go into may become extremely personal, such as a death of a child or suicide. This may result in the responder making a personal connection that may trigger a lasting memory for them.
Mental Illness may not be the only problem our first responders face. According to Mission Harbor Behavioral health,” 40% of EMTs engage in the high-risk use of drugs and alcohol”. Alcohol dependence has become a big danger for first responders, which in turn can cause for life threatening situations such as drunk driving and suicidal thoughts or actions. A development of PTSD or Acute stress disorder may also introduce alcohol or drug abuse to cope with the side effects of the PTSD. Many first responders bond together after experiencing the same traumatic events and this can lead to social drinking with one another.
Police officer, Fire Fighters and Emergency Medical Technicians are exposed to death and destruction daily. According to a study done by The University of Phoenix, “85 percent of first responders have experienced symptoms related to mental health issues, and one in three (33 percent) have received a formal diagnosis of a mental health disorder, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.” These individuals are put through months or even years of specialized training to make sure that they can supply the best level of care to their patients. One thing that many of these individuals have not been conditioned to do is deal with the war within that they may experience along the way.
Many first responders are a part of unions that are aimed in protecting them from any incidentals that may happen while they are working for their county or company. One of the country's biggest union is the International Association of Fire Fighters, this association has a large task force that is available 24/7 to help any responder that needs someone to talk to or supplies resources for treatment against alcoholism or drug abuse. There is an immensely powerful quote displayed on the IAFF website that says, “We are great at taking care of the public, but we are not so great at taking care of ourselves.” Many responders say that they feel as though they must always be mentally tough even though it may be hard. More PSTD essay topics.