There are many different duties that a First Responder has but the biggest one that they have is to serve the community. When you are out in the field all anyone sees is the badge, uniform and car. However, when a first responder looks at themselves they see a completely different person. Although a first responder’s scars and wounds cannot be seen and continue to be buried deep beneath the surface. The stigma for mental health for first responders is widely seen throughout each agency, but is rarely talked about. These first responders display bravery and courage daily, when they go to work. However, who is looking after them when they take off that badge/uniform.
I have had the pleasure of working in law enforcement for 9 years of my career-working in the jails, transport, and working courts- and in doing so I have experienced many of the struggles that plague some of the first responders today. Some of which are: marital issues, financial issues, work-related stress, PTSD, and anxiety and depression. The stigma that getting help from a therapist could mean that you’re unfit for duty. I have also seen where a person who does get help, could be seen as
a liability and could be called to question if something does happen to them on duty. Unfortunately for some close partners that I have known, it was too late and they ended up taking their own life, due to some of these stressors and struggles.
As I transitioned into mental health, I realized that I had a lot of things to work on. First and foremost was the fact that I needed to look at my own deep seated issues, how I was going to work with myself while still being able to help other people who I would be seeing. “It was so hard!” I cannot even begin to talk about how hard it was to be able to open up to someone, including other people in class who were trying to be therapists. However, as I progressed through school it was a humbling experience that I wanted to share with people at my agency, to help provide an impact and prevent some of the outcomes that I was too late to, while working there.
There is light at the end of the tunnel! Getting help does not make you weak or less than. It strengthens your mind and adds to your quality of life. Getting help not only gives to you, but also provides your family with a great deal of relief knowing that you were brave enough to seek help. Our families never get to see what every first responder sees on the job, but they are left with the emotional aftermath and the toll of what the job takes.
Let’s ensure that we keep that fire lit for you to continue to help your community, and if you ever need a helping hand or someone to talk to. “I got your Six”.