Majority Of First Responders Have Experienced Symptoms Related To Mental Health, Need Support To Receive Care, According To New Survey
North American Precis Syndicate
First responders know how to save others but sometimes need help saving themselves. (NAPS)
(NAPSI)—First responders put their lives on the line for public safety
every day and a recent University of Phoenix® College of
Humanities & Sciences survey found that 84 percent1 of
firefighters, police officers, EMT/paramedics, lifeguards and nurses surveyed
have experienced a traumatic event on the job. The results found that 85
percent2 of these first responders have experienced symptoms
related to mental health issues, but many feel stigmas may deter some first
responders from receiving the help they need.
"With so many first responders reporting that they have experienced
traumatic events in their jobs, it is critical to provide access to mental
health services and for their employers to encourage them to seek help if
needed," said Samantha Dutton, Ph.D., MSW, program director for University of Phoenix's Bachelor in Social Work. "It
is also essential that providers help first responders learn how to address
stress that comes from experiences they encounter."
The same survey found that one in three (33 percent)3
first responders have received a formal diagnosis of a mental health disorder,
such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr. Dutton says
early warning signs can manifest in different ways and it is important to get
care as soon as possible.
"Signs a person should consider talking to a mental health professional
include not wanting to spend time with friends and family, getting angry
easily, and abusing drugs or alcohol," she said. "The key to prevention is to
identify work-related pressures and not let them build up, which could lead
to more serious mental health needs."
First responders reported4 that they felt that there could be
negative repercussions (such as their supervisor treating them differently,
being viewed as weak by colleagues or being looked over for promotions) for
formalizing their need for mental health help. However, Dr. Dutton says that
in her professional experience, seeking mental health care has rarely
affected one's position at the workplace, but it is when they do not seek
care that things get progressively worse, and then their jobs could be
"There's no difference between seeking mental health care and going to the
doctor to treat a cold," Dutton concluded. "Just like you wouldn't expect a
broken leg to heal by itself, you can't expect your mental health concerns to
heal on their own."
How Public Safety Agencies Can Help
Although the survey found approximately half5 of first
responders have participated in pre-exposure mental health training (51
percent)6 and "psychological first-aid"
after an incident (49 percent)7, there are still roughly half of
first responders without any pre- or post-training or mental health support
before or after an incident. Additionally, 69 percent8 of first
responders say mental health services are seldom or never utilized at their
To help first responders seek and feel comfortable receiving care:
• Employers can be proactive educating first responders about the
resources available to them to address mental health and to help eliminate
the stigma around receiving mental health care.
• Organizations employing first responders can encourage mental
wellbeing-not just after a traumatic event but even from the effects of
routine stress on the job.
• Managers can speak openly about mental health to let people know there
is nothing wrong with seeking help.
University of Phoenix operates eight counseling centers in six
states (California, Michigan,
Utah and Colorado) that offer free services to
members of the community. For more information or to set up an appointment,
to find full results from the first responders' mental health survey.
was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of University
of Phoenix between Feb. 2 and 21, 2017, among 2,004 U.S. adults aged 18 and
older, who are employed as either a firefighter, police officer,
EMT/paramedic, lifeguard or nurse. Figures were weighted where necessary to
bring them into line with their actual proportions in the first responder
population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for
respondents' propensity to be online.
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)