First-responders have one of the more difficult jobs on the planet. They must show up to scenes where the worst tragedies happen. They deal with events that are much too shocking for most people to handle. They are a special type of person. But it is important to remember that they are people and, though heroic, are not immune to the lasting mental effects that trauma has on an individual.
Many years of exposure to traumatic events can lead to mental disability. The exposure is higher than some may think. In fact according to a recent study done by University of Phoenix:
- 51% of first responders report participating in pre-trauma mental health training
- 80% of firefighters report being exposed to a traumatic event
- 90+% of police and EMTs report exposure to trauma
- 49% of first responders were offered “Psychological First Aid” after traumatic events
- 85% of first responders experienced symptoms related to mental health issues
Within the general population, 3.5% of people have PTSD (post-traumatic-stress-disorder). In the first-responder community however, that average skyrockets ten fold. The average is 35%.
The long-term effects can leave a person unable to lead a functional life. Luckily, mental disability is becoming better understood by mental health professionals and leaders of disability programs. Recently, Florida expanded its PTSD benefits.
If you are a first-responder and are suffering mental anguish, now is the time to seek mental health treatment if you haven’t already. If you have sought mental health treatment and find that you are prevented from working by mental anguish, it is time to talk to an adviser or attorney that specializes in disability cases.