John Rose Oak Bluffs: Behavioral Health of Firefighters

First responders are the first people on the scene of dangerous, challenging, and draining emergencies, notes John Rose Oak Bluffs. Their job is to protect the health and safety of the population. First responders are often exposed to or witness grief, pain, injury, death, loss, threats to personal safety, poor sleep, long days of work, and physical hardships.
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First responders have a challenging job. They’re constantly exposed to traumatic events and disasters. Over time, the compounded experience of encountering traumatic events and emergencies can take its toll on their mental health. This may lead to substance abuse disorders, says John Rose Oak Bluffs. Work-related stress, substance abuse, and behavioral health problems are commonly seen among first responders.

Firefighters Behavioral Health

Firefighters are repeatedly subjected to crazy sleep schedules, painful experiences, and other factors that can cause mental health problems. Additionally, some firefighters may experience stigma associated with seeking counseling. Volunteer firefighters may even have more barriers to receiving addiction treatment than career firefighters because of the availability and cost of first responder treatment.

First responder statistics show that 13% to 17% of firefighters suffer from depression. The same study also found that volunteer firefighters have a higher depression rate than career firefighters. Another study found the prevalence of depression in female volunteer firefighters is as high as 38.5% and 22.2% in female career firefighters.

The Strain on Firefighters

A significant number of firefighters have reported post-traumatic stress and stress disorder symptoms. According to a literature review, over 50% of firefighter deaths are due to exhaustion and stress. Suicidal ideations in firefighters are also reported at a much higher rate than the general population. While more research in this area is needed, current studies found that firefighters report higher numbers of suicide attempts and suicidal ideation rates. In fact, a recent study of 1,027 active and retired firefighters found that the prevalence of plans of suicide, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts were as high as 19.2%, 46.8%, and 15.5%, respectively.

Substance abuse, addiction, and disorders are commonly reported in firefighters. Excessive alcohol use is reported in about 50% of male firefighters, while 83.3% of female firefighters have reported trying smoking, and 22% currently smoke. Because substance use addiction and disorders are prevalent among firefighters, first responders’ addiction treatment is crucial.

Seeking professional help for substance addiction or abuse is in a firefighter’s best interest if they’re experiencing negative effects of substance abuse disorders, says John Rose Oak Bluffs. There are many different programs available for first responders, and seeking professional help can make all the difference. John Rose Oak Bluffs adds that mental health professionals are trained to work with individuals who have an addiction and can help them develop coping skills in the face of trauma and other negative experiences.

John Rose holds certifications, including Fire Prevention Officer and Fire Officer 1. Learn more about the role of firefighters and EMT training and certifications by following this John Rose Oak Bluffs page.

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