First Responders Trauma (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury)

The public health and public safety workers experience a broad range of health and mental health consequences as a result of work-related exposures to natural or human-caused disasters.

The nature of first responders’ occupation continuously puts them in harm’s way as well as regularly exposing them to others who have been injured or harmed. These occupations subject first responders to a great number of traumatic events, resulting in a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress injury. Exposure to multiple traumatic stressors can also exacerbate other pre-existing conditions. The presence of any mental health disorders in first responders can also be associated with diminished ability to work efficiently, early retirement, substance abuse, and suicide.

Due to the stigma associated with having a mental health disorder among first responders, first responders tend to under report symptoms to avoid judgment by peers and supervisors, demotion, or a decrease in responsibilities at work. Other barriers to receiving mental health care are difficulty in scheduling appointments, not knowing where to go to get help, difficulty in getting time off work, fear of a negative impact on their career and concern that the services are not confidential.

The following are some of the symptoms that may indicate a post-traumatic stress injury:

  • Aggressive, reckless, or self-destructive behaviour
  • Dissociation from the self (this can include reduced awareness of one’s surroundings, amnesia or numbed emotions)
  • Inability to remember key aspects of the traumatic event
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event (nightmares, spontaneous memories, flashbacks)
  • Sleep disturbances and changes in sleep patterns
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
  • Social isolation and loss of interest in activities
  • Reluctance to seek help due to fear of stigmatization
  • Blaming self or others due to a distorted sense of reality
  • Substance abuse

First Responders Trauma Counselling & Therapy in Vancouver

Professionals trained to treat post-trauma stress injury can help those who are suffering reclaim their emotional footing. However, that requires acknowledging the problem. Their lives will always be changed by the traumas they have suffered; however, they can rebuild and retool their lives. Receiving therapy can also help all the people who are close to them including their fellow first responders. When they participate in receiving help, they are also advocating for their fellow first responders.

Counselling aims to help you deal with and overcome issues that are causing emotional pain or making you feel uncomfortable.

SK Counselling can provide a safe and regular space for you to talk and explore difficult feelings. The counsellor is there to support you and respect your views. They won’t usually give advice, but will help you find your own insights into and understanding of your problems

The counsellor can help you gain a better understanding of your feelings and thought processes by discussing your concerns with you. The counsellor can also identify ways of finding your own solutions to problems.