First responders may suffer mental health issues from work

When a tragedy happens, Minnesotans know that they can depend on emergency personnel to save the day. Paramedics, firefighters, 911 dispatchers and police are always prepared for the worst possible scenario.

However, these tragedies can still take their toll on first responders. These workers enter some of the most dangerous situations on a daily basis. While they solve the issue and protect citizens, responders may also experience just as much stress and fear as the citizens. Over time or after a specific event, responders may develop several types of mental health complications.

In fact, suicide rates among emergency personnel are higher than average, but this problem is beginning to gain more attention. Firefighters, for example, can begin to feel the weight of their work and develop depression. In response, the Minnesota Fire Initiative recently launched a peer support hotline for firefighters who are struggling with mental illness. This hotline allows firefighters to talk about their battle with someone who understands the difficult nature of their job. Other Minnesota hotlines exist to combat the effects of mental illness as well.

While on the job, responders not only see disturbing accidents or cruelty, but they may also be in harm's way. At a domestic house call, a police officer could suffer a violent attack from a citizen. Even if their wounds heal in the hospital, they may be extremely anxious to return to work. Work injuries can often lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, anger management trouble, depression, anxiety or a combination of issues.

Although first responders are brave to deal with highly risky situations, these topics can still be tough to talk about. While free hotlines are a great resource for those struggling with mental illness, sometimes time away from work, therapy and medication can make a huge difference. Responders can ask an attorney about obtaining compensation to cover the costs of these methods so that they can win the fight against mental illness.

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