First responders, from police officers to firefighters to EMTs, experience high-stress situations every day. First responders put their lives on the line to save others, and are one of the most respected professions in America, especially in times of crisis. First responders don’t only put their physical lives in jeopardy when they start their shift, they also put their mental wellness on the front lines with them. Studies have shown that first responders are at a higher risk than other professions for developing depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) simply due to the nature of their job. However, a majority of first responders experiencing PTSD do not seek help. This is most likely due to a first responder culture that values strength, stoicism, and power over emotions. But sometimes the bravest thing a first responder can do is admit they need help. This doesn’t necessarily mean seeking traditional therapy, though traditional therapy sessions can definitely help. When first responders feel like a standard counselor just doesn’t “get it” because they don’t share experiences, it can be hard to find common ground and open up. Through Peer Support Central, first responders can receive counseling and help from people who have been in the same situations they have and who have experienced first hand the same kind of trauma that comes with the job. Today, we’d like to outline four ways that a peer support group can benefit first responders.
- When you’re part of a peer support group, you will always have someone to talk to. As you know, first responders generally do not work a 9:00-5:00 schedule. You will likely have peers in your group who are awake and ready to help 24 hours a day when you need to talk to somebody.
- Peer support groups offer a judgment free zone. Most everyone in your peer support group has been through the same situations that you have – that’s why they’re called your peers. Whatever you have experienced, seen, said, or done, it is likely they have had those same experiences or known someone who has. This makes for a judgement-free atmosphere when talking with your peers and sharing your experience.
- Your peers are examples of recovery. When you are in a low place because of the stressors that your job entails, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In your peer support group, you’ll be surrounded by people who have been in your position and have moved towards recovery. This should serve as an example that healing is possible through peer support groups.
- At your peer support group, you will learn how to communicate in the group and at home. By listening to and responding to other people in the group, you can learn different ways of communicating your experience. Often times people find it easier to communicate with peers who share their life experience than with their own families. Through peer support groups for first responders, you will hopefully learn new ways to communicate with your family as well.
Peer Support Groups Can Help First Responders Recover
Peer support groups from Peer Support Central can help first responders deal with traumatic events through critical incident stress management and PTSD support. These peer-led groups can help first responders learn how to communicate and talk about their experiences in order to move toward recovery. Contact us today to find a support group near you, or to learn more information about our first responder training courses.