In 2017, Congress designated October 28th as National First Responders Day. The resolution was passed to honor the firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and all those who are first on the scene in stressful situations. The family of Sean Collier, a police officer ambushed and murdered during events related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, supported the resolution.
Few of us normally give much thought to those who dedicate their lives to being on the front lines in the scene of an emergency. We go about our daily activities secure in the knowledge that, if needed, they will be there ready to help, even at the risk of their own lives. During a crisis, these brave people become the most important people in the world to those in desperate need.
Ten Times the Stress Rate
Police, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel pay a high price for their prompt response to the needs of others. A University of Phoenix survey revealed that their rate of post-traumatic stress (PTSD) is approximately 10 times as high as in the civilian population. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg when the full consequences of their high-stress careers are examined.
- 85 % report experiencing symptoms associated with mental health issues
- 34 % have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder
- More than 90 % are consistently exposed to traumatic events
The Mental Health Stigma
The survey found that the people working in these very high-stress occupations suffer from career repercussions if they admit to their mental health issues. The following statistics are what has been reported:
- 55 % – fear they will be treated differently at work by their supervisor if they discuss their mental health problems
- 45 % say they’ll be considered “weak” by coworkers
- 34 % believe they would be denied promotions if they report PTS or related mental health issues
PTS can be devastating. People whose careers make it necessary for them to take control of dangerous situations find it extremely difficult to control their own emotions and physical symptoms. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety, anger, fear and other strong emotions affect their daily lives and both personal and work relationships.
Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs can feed into a downward spiral. Although mental health treatment programs may be available at work, seeking help and admitting to their problem can appear too difficult and detrimental to their career. Smaller agencies may not have the funds or personnel to offer mental health treatment to their employees.
Those attempting to deal with high levels of stress by themselves ask legitimate questions.
- Will anyone ever again trust me on the job?
- Will I be silently ostracized?
- Will PTSD treatment be a permanent black mark on my record?
An Alarming Suicide Rate
A study by the Ruderman Family Foundation discovered that more police officers and firefighters died from suicide than in the line of duty in 2017. They suffered in silence as long as they could.
Firefighters: 103 suicides compared to 93 killed in the line of duty
Police officers: 140 suicides compared to. 129 killed in the line of duty
The unending exposure to trauma and death on the job caused PTS and depression. For some, suicide, perhaps an impulsive decision, must have seemed like the only answer at that moment.
A Fast, Novel Treatment for Stress Disorders
First responders have much in common with military veterans. Both groups experience high levels of stress, substance abuse issues, depression, and anxiety as a result of their traumatic experiences. Often, these individuals are unable or unwilling to commit to extremely long treatment programs which may not help relieve their symptoms.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that has successfully treated many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress. Flashbacks, nightmares, depression, and anger can completely disrupt their attempts to return to civilian life and their families. Far too many commit suicide.
One of the greatest benefits of ART is the length of the treatment program. Research shows that ART takes only five sessions or less before someone experiences significant relief from their symptoms. Many clients have reported a significant difference after their first session of ART. This is truly life-changing and a radical improvement to\ months or years “on the couch.”
How ART Works
ART incorporates elements of several existing psychotherapies and offers unique benefits. The rapid reduction in the intensity of PTSD symptoms is caused by reprogramming how traumatic memories and the associated images are stored in the brain. Memory visualization techniques are made more powerful by incorporating bi-lateral eye movements and memory reconsolidation, where new images are incorporated with existing ones. New information reduces the intensity of the bad memories of the traumatic event(s).
First responders save lives every day. They do not deserve to have their lives crippled by post-traumatic stress, especially when help is available for them.
To learn more, contact ART International today. Help is waiting.