How To Help Our First Responders In Crisis 

From the devastating wildfires in California to Hurricane Dorian’s destruction up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and The Bahamas, it seems almost every month we’re facing some of the worst natural disasters to wreak havoc on our Nation’s soil. And who are the first on the scene to face these highly dangerous situations? First responders. The term first responders include federal, state, and local governmental and nongovernmental emergency fire, law enforcement, emergency medical, and related personnel. 

These heroes are also the first to reach out to disaster survivors and provide emotional and physical support – but they are the last to ask for help. After the devastating hurricane in the Bahamas, a rescue worker in the midst of recovering bodies of those who were lost stated, “You have to be mentally stable because when you’re seeing these things, and when people who lost loved ones are crying on your shoulder – you can’t break down on them (Reuters).” This emotional toll can put first responders at an increased risk of mental health issues and substance use disorders. 

First Responders Mental Health Risks

According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

Help and Hope

Sadly, shame surrounds mental health issues within these professions, leaving many first responders to suffer in silence and turn to substances as a way to cope with their harsh realities. So how can these brave heroes get the support they need and back to the life they deserve? Organizations like SAMHSA has a free online training course called “Service To Self” that informs first responders about their increased risk of experiencing mental health and substance use issues. It also equips them with information on how to address these issues, such as: 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also offers educational resources and recommends: 

Local mental health advocacy organizations and “help-lines” also provide much-needed assistance for first responders and their families, check your state or county online for more details. Also, remember to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you or someone you love is in crisis – there are many first responders and veterans who volunteer and can help.

Treatment For Substance Use Disorder and Addiction

When a first responder feels overwhelmed and turns to drugs or alcohol, professional treatment can provide life-saving tools to help him or her get back on the road to a healthier life. If you or someone you love is dealing with mental health issues and a co-occurring substance use disorder or addiction, Daylight Recovery Services offers treatment that is tailored to each person’s unique needs. Contact us and get help today.