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Who is taking care of those who care for us?
Taking care of others can take a huge emotional toll. For first responders (paramedics, police officers, firefighters) this is especially true. Since April 2014 there have been 25 first responders who have died by suicide. Unfortunately, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a common occurrence for these professionals. Research says that around 24% of first responders suffer from PTSD. Sadly, in a professional world characterized by “toughness” and “strength”, many individuals do not reach out for help because they face both internal and external stigma and fear of job loss.
How can public actions of support help those dealing with mental illnesses?
These tragedies have lead to the creation of social media campaigns that hope to bring awareness to this issue while also showing public support for first responders. A group of paramedics who felt they had to do something to show the human-side of PTSD in first responders created the #i’vegotyourback911 campaign. Their simple Twitter and Facebook campaign has individuals posting pictures with themselves holding signs showing their support. In a short amount of the time, the campaign has gained popularity across Ontario and has begun selling clothing to raise money for the Tema Contor Memorial Trust.
First responders see extreme amounts of violence and human suffering but maybe you can relate to the struggles of helping someone at the expense of your own mental health. When you’re helping a friend in need you need to make sure that you’re looking after yourself too, and reaching out for help if you need it. Check out this Self Care while Helping a Friend page at mindyourmind for some tips. For more resources about helping a friend, please visit the Help section.
For a first hand account of what one firefighter / emergency responder went through, read Ian Bell's letter to the #i'vegotyourback911 campaign.
Keara (BA Psychology) is excited to join the mindyourmind team as the Community Engagement Assistant. She is passionate about creating open conversations around mental health and reducing stigma. Also on her list of likes are tea, good books, adventures, and the smell of rain.
Find blogs with relevant and up-to-date info about mental health, society and other youth topics; written by a variety of youth and professional contributors.