The society is beginning to embrace the importance of mental health among the first responders. The majority of the media together with fire stations in the state of Virginia are campaigning and advocating for the psychological wellbeing on behalf of the first responders. The press also plays a significant role in creating awareness of the need for the first responders to have sound mental health. The majority of the first responders suffer in silence without revealing what they are experiencing (Heglund, 2017). The culture of firefighters, emergency services, law enforcement, and paramedics is in for the blame for the first responders' failure to reveal their sufferings. The fact that first responders seem to be calm does not mean that they have sound mental health. They are continually witnessing sadness, anger, and pain which steadily and slowly affecting their mental health (Koch, 2016). Therefore, the paper will cover mental health and ways of reducing the number of suicides among the first offenders. Moreover, the paper will also feature free coping mechanisms available for the first responders in the state of Virginia. Besides, the paper will also encompass different ways by which first responders can reduce burn out.
Suicide Reduction Ways Among the First Responders
All the first responders are facing numerous fatal life experiences coupled with unique stressors that are taking a toll on their mental health. Interestingly, most of the first responders die of suicide more than those who die while on duty (Radek, 2018). Moreover, those willing to seek for help have limited options. However, the majority of first responders suffer from the stigma of seeking help. Therefore, helping them can be challenging. It explains why most of the first responders resort to suicide as the last option. The good news is that several ways can be employed to reduce first responders from committing suicide (Heglund, 2017).
One of the methods that the state of Virginia can employ to reduce cases of suicide is critical incident stress debriefing (CISD). It is a method that most of the police departments, Canadian emergency services, as well as fire departments use as an intervention tool against trauma and suicide. CISD encompasses 7 phases and small groups that support themselves at times of distress. Apart from using the CISD approach, Virginia's first responders can also rely on peer support to reduce incidences of suicide. Peer support is instrumental in managing suicide because it involves people with similar problems offering their experiences and how they have managed to overcome them. Another effective method is to appeal with the society to avoid stigmatizing first responders who are seeking help (Heglund, 2017).
Coping Mechanism Available For the First Responders
Coping mechanisms are adaptive mechanisms that an individual can adopt as a means of overcoming a distressing situation. Moreover, the first responders of Virginia can also choose coping mechanism as one of the ways of evading suicides. Interestingly, these coping mechanisms are free. The coping mechanisms available for first offenders include acting out, attack, adaptation, altruism, and aim inhibition. Through acting out, the first responders can withstand the pressure to commit suicide (Felton, & Tracey, 1985).
Additionally, by adopting altruism, the first responders can decide to help one another as a way of supporting themselves. Through the attack, the first offenders can choose to face their problems head-on rather than succumbing to suicide. Besides, aim inhibition can help the first responders from having unrealistic targets of wanting to save everybody irrespective of the risk involved. Moreover, the first responders can decide to exercise adaptation by selecting to adapt to the traumatic experiences rather than resorting to suicide (Felton, & Tracey, 1985).
Ways of Reducing Burn Out
Burn out by first responders is inevitable. It prevents them from exercising their duties effectively. Below are some ways of reducing burn out. First is encouraging them to have an adequate sleep and making them understand the need to avoid responding to all the distressing situations especially when they feel exhausted. Other way includes encouraging the first offenders to socialize with other people outside of their work as a means of achieving emotional fulfillment. Furthermore, the paper will also feature adequate exercise as one of the ways that first responders in the state of Virginia can reduce burn out (Heuer, 2014).
The world including the state of Virginia is witnessing different forms of a tragedy such as a hurricane, gun violence in schools, wildfires, mudslides, and mass shootings. However, much attention is always geared towards the trauma that the affected individuals do face without considering the potential stress and trauma that the first responders have to undergo in silence. To most of the people first, responders are national heroes who are widely celebrated. Despite their heroic status, first responders are continuously stressed to the point that some of them even commit suicide. Their stress emanates from the traumatic and disturbing events that they face while trying to help others. Therefore, there is a need for society as a whole to support the first responders to maintain their mental health. It is because if the nation puts a blind eye on this issue, then Virginia will lose most of their first responders through suicide.
Felton, B. J., & Tracey, A. R. (1985). Coping with chronic illness: A study of illness controllability and the influence of coping strategies on psychological adjustment. Pain, 22(2), 216. doi:10.1016/0304-3959(85)90210-6
Heglund, J. (2017). Helping first responders withstand traumatic experiences. PsycEXTRA Dataset, 2(1), 126-131. doi:10.1037/e511602010-002
Heuer, G. M. (2014). The nature of burn-out and the burn-out of nature: The sloth and the chickadee. Socio-psychological, ecological, sacral-political and ethical implications. Jungian and Alchemical perspectives. Psychotherapy and Politics International, 9(1), 29-42. doi:10.1002/ppi.234
Koch, B. J. (2016). The psychological impact on police officers of being first responders to completed suicides. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 25(2), 90-98. doi:10.1007/s11896-010-9070-y
Radek, K. S. (2018). Trauma in First Responders-How Much of a Contributing Factor to Reported Suicide Rates? Mental Disorders & Therapy, 07(02), 37-49. doi:10.4172/2167-0277.1000e144
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