Responding to First Responder Mental Health
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First responders such as police, firefighters and paramedics are exposed to potentially traumatic stressors as expected variables of their occupations. These exposures are unavoidable due to the nature of responding to emergencies. Until recently, treatment of first responder’s mental health has been reactive rather than proactive. Most empirical research has been based on therapeutic modalities used to treat first responders effectively once exacerbated conditions have set in. These may include burnout, depression, substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This project will examine current trends that focus on proactively reaching out to first responders before they become affected by serious mental health issues. Resilience has been shown to provide strong coping mechanisms in dealing with stressors of potentially traumatic events that this population is known to encounter. This paper will explore options for therapeutic prevention, postvention and treatment options in maintaining optimum mental health for first responders. Best practices for maintaining the mental health of first responders should aim to ensure a baseline resilience to prevent more serious conditions from developing.