By Dr. Keith L. Marshall, Psy.D.
Everyone else is running away from the fire or danger, but you’re charging right towards it. Gunfire rings out in a crowded park, people scatter, and someone gets shot, but you run toward the sound of the shots and help the victim.
First responders such as police, fire fighters and medical emergency professionals, are some of the bravest people — A first responders is trained to face danger and sometimes manage the most horrifying events. They help people who otherwise cannot protect themselves or help themselves.
But who is looking out for you the first responder? Who is helping you manage your mental and emotional health?
Most people in society will react or respond to fight or flight responses on a limited basis, however fire, police, and many other medical emergency professionals, often deal with these natural responses daily. The long term psychological and emotional stress first responders deal with could eventually lead to depression. Furthermore, symptoms such depression, could be an antecedent causing or leading to disruptions work, family, and social relationships.
Signs of Depression
Depression manifests itself differently in every individual, but it can affect one’s ability to work, sleep, eat and enjoy once pleasurable activities.
- Persistent sad and anxious or empty feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feeling restless, irritable and discontented
- Lack of interest in sex
- Thoughts of suicide
- Difficulty concentrating
- Insomnia or Excessive sleeping
- Over-eating or loss of appetite
- Physical stress
- Excessive drinking or chemical use
Most often police, fire, and emergency professionals have a higher risk of suffering from depression than other professions due to the nature of their jobs and the environments they operate in. Most often these professionals are stuffing and holding their emotions in, or “sucking it up” for lack of a better term, to stay professional and calm during the emergency.
Unfortunately, “sucking it up” and repressing the feelings could have potential to manifest in unhealthy behaviors. We all seek relief from negative feelings, it’s our instinct to act in compensatory measures look to ameliorate the internal stress. ALL POLICE, FIRE, and EMERGENCY professionals
Be alert and stay alert and take care of yourselves. Our world needs you, and know that we are here to help you. Dr. Keith L. Marshall, Psy.D.
If you, someone you love or someone you know needs help, call:
Safe Call Now: 24 Hour Confidential Hotline: 206-459-3020
For more information on the First Responders program: Click here
Or call Shannon Clairemont at 661-466-6352 or Vanessa Stapleton at 304-651-3008
Published by armorupnow
Sean Riley is the Founder and President of Safe Call Now, a confidential, comprehensive, 24-hour crisis referral service for public safety employees, all emergency services personnel and their family members nationwide. Safe Call Now was started in 2009 after legislation was passed guaranteeing confidentiality nationwide for all who call the Safe Call Now crisis line that is staffed by current and former first responders.
Sean played baseball for San Diego State University and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Public Administration. He started his law enforcement career as a San Diego County Deputy Sheriff in 1987 and later relocated to Washington State in 1990. Sean spent over 16 years with the Kirkland Police Department. His many accomplishments include being a member of the International Homicide Investigator's Association, Homicide and Sexual Assault Detective, Interview and Interrogation Specialist, D.A.R.E. Officer, Gang Officer and Certified Training Officer. Riley is also credited with solving one of the first ever elder abuse homicide cases in the nation.
Sean's prominent career in law enforcement ended in 2005 when he could no longer hide his "secret" behind the badge. Sean threw away his almost 20-year stellar police career due to alcohol and drug addiction and was headed towards suicide to become just another unknown statistic. In addition to attending college for substance abuse counseling, Sean worked as a supervisor at a local treatment center where he witnessed many public safety employees coming in and out of treatment. Riley decided to do something about it. From his own experience, he knew that first responders wanted to come forward to help, but due to the stigma attached, they would not. Admitting to a substance abuse or mental health problem is perceived as a sign of weakness and could result in the termination from a noble career. By creating a safe and confidential place to reach out for help, first responders are now coming forward in droves from around the nation to better their lives, better their families and better their careers.
Recognized as a dynamic national keynote speaker, Sean travels throughout the country to share his inspirational story. Coupled with cutting edge, interactive training, Riley hits those once thought of as "taboo" or "controversial" topics head-on.
"Safe Call Now provides education, healthy alternatives, resources and a complete continuum of care to save lives and put families back together. Through a collaborative effort, Safe Call Now has discovered when you provide an opportunity for an individual to get their life and their family back, you get one great employee back out serving the public."
- Sean Riley, Founder/President
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