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October is Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental health issues are common in the United States, affecting one in five Americans. Mental Health can be influenced by many different factors, including: genetics, biology, environment, and daily habits. First responders are at higher risk due to trauma and emotional stress that you are exposed to on the job. Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are nearly 5 times higher among firefighters and police officers than the general public.
This continues to be an unprecedented time in history and the first responders and health care professionals are on the front line of the pandemic. Rest and self-care become paramount to cope.
• Limit working hours to no longer than 12-hour shifts.
• Work in teams and limit amount of time working alone.
• Write in a journal.
• Talk to family, friends, supervisors, and teammates about your feelings and experiences.
• Practice breathing and relaxation techniques.
• Maintain a healthy diet and get adequate sleep and exercise.
• Know that it is okay to draw boundaries and say “no.”
• Avoid or limit caffeine and use of alcohol.
It is important to remind yourself:
• It is not selfish to take breaks.
• The needs of survivors are not more important than your own needs and well-being.
• Working all of the time does not mean you will make your best contribution to your team or the cause.
• There are other people who can help in the response.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255
If you are struggling with depression or anxiety it is important to reach out to your family, a colleague, or a medical professional.
Responder Alliance has great information regarding the stress continuum and resilience resources.