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Could Wellness Courses Aid First Responders and Other High-Risk Positions?

Could Wellness Courses Aid First Responders and Other High-Risk Positions?

First-responders, such as law enforcement personnel, firefighters, dispatchers and EMTs, experience high stress and pressure in situations where immediate attention is required. Traumatic events can leave long-lasting impressions on many in the field, and factors such as high call volumes after the event, being in the service for an extended length of time, having a partner injured or killed while on duty, and more can also have an effect on the development of stress disorders. Previous research has shown that physical interventions and wellness courses can reduce stress in individuals, but what about those specifically who serve as first-responders?

A 2018 review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health sought to evaluate a course aimed at reducing stress amongst a group of police officers. Free courses were provided, and included physical efficiency (total body conditioning, for example) and wellness (a desensitization-relaxation therapy). A total of 105 police officers were assessed both before and after these interventions took place. Researchers aimed to identify the effectiveness of interventions in perceived stress and health among participants, as well as in increasing effective coping strategies.

Results from the study showed that both physical and wellness courses improved perceived distress, ultimately improving participants’ perception of well-being. Mental health benefits were reported, including effective coping strategies, such as:

  • Yoga
  • Dynamic meditation
  • Positive reframing

Ultimately, these courses provided police officers with a change to discuss sensitive topics, engage with peers and build social support and team comradery, evoke firsthand experiences, and capture interpersonal dynamics that contributed to the discussion. For many in this field, technicalities and regulations are discussed, but mental health awareness isn’t. Physical and wellness courses could give first responders the tools they need to make it through difficult days and overcome traumatic events they’ve witnessed or been involved in.

According to Dr. Jana K. Tran, a psychologist for the Houston Fire Department, many first-responders experience dissonance between being both a survivor and a victim, as the community needs them to respond appropriately to situations. As human tragedy is faced head-on by first responders, depression, stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can manifest itself in physical ways, such as through migraines, muscle aches and pains, and more. Some first-responders may resort to alcohol or other substances in an attempt to cope with unwanted symptoms of PTSD or other mental health conditions.

If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center today to learn more about programs to best suit your needs. Recovery is possible.

The Center for Professional Recovery offers individualized treatment programs for professionals in a range of industries. Call us today for information on our specialized treatment: 855-422-4129

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