Friday, June 21, 2024

Recognizing You Need Help And Reaching Out For It Is The Bravest Thing You Can Do


First responder “culture” strongly emphasizes strength, self-reliance, and saving others. Many of these brave men and women are exposed to traumatic events on a daily basis, yet they often feel pressure to present themselves as unbreakable heroes. It’s almost as if they think that admitting to struggling with mental health is saying that they don’t have what it takes to do the job anymore.

It’s a false narrative. One that needs to be obliterated.

Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health in the First responder community is as strong as they are. In order to avoid negative judgments or repercussions at work, many first responders don’t report their symptoms or actively seek help. They fear of being labeled as weak or damaged. First responders have to navigate and process some of the most difficult and traumatic situations imaginable... on a daily basis. There’s not enough sleeping or eating right in the world that is going to fortify a person against the effects of trauma like that.

Let's be clear - developing PTSD or any other mental health condition is not a sign of weakness. The idea that someone “gets” PTSD because they are not resilient enough, or because they already experienced trauma, addiction, etc. and are “damaged goods” is a dangerously false narrative. It basically equates PTSD to the flu and opines that PTSD attacks those with compromised mental immune systems. 

Mental health warning signs for first responders to look out for:

  • Threatening suicide or threatening harm to others
  • Displaying out-of-control or reckless behaviors
  • Increased feelings of anxiety or excessive worry
  • Hostility or insubordination towards others and supervisors
  • An unusual fascination with suicide or homicide
  • Withdrawing or isolating behaviors
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • And an increased use or beginning use of drugs or alcohol to cope

 This is not an exhaustive list, but if you or someone you know exhibits some or a combination of these signs, it may be time to seek help.

It's important for first responders to recognize when their work has begun to take a toll and seek support and professional help. The stigma isn’t helping anyone, especially not those whose job title is “hero.”

Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, it's a necessary step towards healing and maintaining overall well-being. When you get down to it. Recognizing you need help and reaching out for it is probably the strongest and bravest thing you can do.


If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

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