Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health in Medical Professionals and First Responders

PTSD, compassion fatigue, psychological stress and mental fatigue are growing realities for first responders, health care and military professionals. This includes: EMS, paramedics, firefighters, nurses, personal care attendants, police officers, military personnel, and allied health care professionals.

Mental health issues are not usually seen as “professional” or accepted by the public as well as among ourselves.

The reason we get into these types of professions is to help people. And unfortunately that sometimes means that we are the last voice they ever heard or the last hand they held before they took their last breath.

Working in any of these professions we have to put on a brave face and to be “strong” for others during those traumatic events.

I am not a nurse, personal care worker, paramedic, EMS worker, soldier, or police officer. I am a Cardiology Technologist and a Volunteer Firefighter. I have seen a lot of traumatic things over the years. They have taken quite a toll on my mental health.

Although I am “just a tech”, I have been exposed to things where I have been afraid to show emotion because I do not want to be viewed as “weak” or “emotionally incompetent”. I have had to hide my tears and “keep my shit together” in an attempt to not look “unstable” or “weak”.

It doesn’t matter how many times you arrive at the scene of an accident, how many times you witness an unsuccessful code blue, or how many hands you hold during someone’s last moments. It never gets any easier and you never become “numb” to the after effects of those events.

We are not immune to pain and heartache for our patients, victims or their families. It’s just unfortunate that we have to hide our pain.

I have come home and cried and thought about those people and their families for days, months and sometimes even years.

We have emotions. We have tears. We have HEART.

So the next time you see a nurse, personal care attendant, police officer, paramedic, firefighter, soldier or even an allied health professional like me, whether they are tending to your sick loved one or whether they are your co-worker, give them a break. The tears they are holding back and the emotions they are trying to hide, are an indication of their compassion and the reason why they are exceptional at what they do.

We are #JUSTHUMAN ♥️

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