Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Survey finds 85 per cent of U.S. first responders face mental health challenges

By Blue Line   

Headlines News

The University of Phoenix has released the findings from its 2017 survey on first responder mental health, which surveyed 2,000 American adults who are employed as firefighters, police officers, EMT/paramedics and nurses. The survey not only revealed that a high percentage of first responders are dealing with traumatic events in their line of work, but also that many are also experiencing negative mental health symptoms.

The findings show that while approximately half of first responders have participated in pre-exposure mental health training, the majority report that mental health services are rarely used at their organization. Data show there are resources available to first responders, but stigmas associated with mental health may be keeping them from getting the help they need.

Here is more data from the survey:

The majority of first responders (85 per cent) have experienced symptoms related to mental health issues.

It’s not surprising that the vast majority of first responders reported these symptoms, considering 84 percent have experienced a traumatic event on the job. Additionally, a third (34 percent) have received a formal mental health disorder diagnosis, like depression or PTSD.

For those that say they have been diagnosed with depression, nearly half cited incidents at work as a contributing cause.

The survey revealed that there are stigmas associated with seeking mental health help on the job. Of those that say there are negative repercussions for seeking mental help at work, the majority feel their supervisor will treat them differently. Other concerns are co-workers perceiving them as “weak” or resulting in them being passed over for promotions.

The majority of first responders have been exposed to trauma:
• 69 per cent have experienced lack of sleep
• 46 per cent have experienced anxiety
• 27 per cent of first responders have been formally diagnosed with depression

Communicating about mental health issues:
• 61 per cent of respondents feel comfortable talking to their supervisor about mental health concerns
• 42 per cent disagree that their supervisor openly discusses the importance of addressing mental health concerns
• 50 per cent of first responders believe their supervisor will treat them differently if they seek mental health help

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix between Feb. 2-21, 2017 among 2,004 adults aged 18 and older.

This article was originally published in Blue Line on March 20, 2018 

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