The COVID-19 outbreak has shed new light on first responders: Doctors, nurses, EMTs, firefighters, and others who are on the front line of the response. But as you might suspect, all these people have families too. The anxiety they are feeling is likely high, as they work long hours fighting a pandemic that they too are at risk of contracting.
If you are a first responder, or one is in your family or close circle of friends, there are things you can do to reduce what is known as secondary traumatic stress (STS). According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, STS is the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another. Each year more than 10 million children in the United States endure the trauma of abuse, violence, natural disasters, and other adverse events.
While STS is often associated with children, it also applies to professionals involved in the care of traumatized individuals and their families. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of STS are:
So what can first responders do besides learn to identify the symptoms? The CDC recommends the following self-care tips:
It is also important to remind yourself that:
Responding to disasters can be both rewarding and stressful. Knowing that you have stress and coping with it as you respond will help you stay well, and this will allow you to keep helping those who are affected.
Walking through the doors of a center like Valley Oaks for the first can be tough. We work hard to make sure that your visit is easy, streamlined, and professional while still addressing your needs. The reality is that more folks are seeking help than you’d ever imagine, and for good reason. More than 80% of folks that seek help for common mental health ailments see significant improvement. Your journey to life’s peaks can start right now… and start right here… at Valley Oaks.
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