A new investigation into the mental health of first responders finds a troubling disparity: EMTs/paramedics, firefighters, and police are frequently exposed to traumatic events, but rarely access mental health services within their organizations. Worse, more than a third—at least of those sampled—have been formally diagnosed with some mental health disorder.
The data comes from Harris Poll and the University of Phoenix, which surveyed 2,000 emergency responders (the above professionals, plus nurses) to understand better how they’re impacted by their jobs. Among the findings:
- 85% of respondents have experienced symptoms related to mental health issues;
- 34% have received a formal diagnosis of a mental health disorder;
- 27% have been diagnosed with depression, 10% with PTSD;
- 69% say mental health services are rarely or never utilized within their organizations;
- 39% expect professional repercussions for seeking mental health assistance at work, including 55% who say their supervisor will treat them differently and 45% who say their colleagues will perceive them as weak.
“The survey revealed that there are stigmas associated with seeking mental health help on the job,” the university concluded. But on the bright side, about half of respondents had participated in some pre-exposure mental health training, and 74% have mental health services readily available.