Test your knowledge about some of the approaches to workplace mental health issues found within this website.
The rush of adrenalin, the sense of helping others and the constant variety may be the factors that attracted workers to emergency services. Over time, however, these same factors can begin to negatively impact the mental and physical health of these well-meaning professionals. The following issues represent some of the stressors for emergency services professionals that can lead to increased risk of mental health issues. The proposed approaches may help reduce this risk.
Issue: Recovery period between critical incidents is too short.
Proposed approach: De-brief personnel after handling a critical situation and determine appropriate wait time before they can be sent out to handle the next incident. Remember that different people will have different reactions -- some will be unaffected and ready to go to the next call. Others may need more time and assistance to help process and move beyond what has happened.
Issue: Feeling that career advancement will be limited if individual seeks mental health support.
Proposed approach: Speak openly about mental health and discuss that seeking support has the potential of reducing the risk of long-term mental health effects. It may help to have senior staff who are willing share relevant experiences of mental health issues such as depression or posttraumatic stress disorder so that others can see that promotion and advancement were still possible. Explain that discrimination (including the refusal of promotion or training) on the basis of a disability, including a previous mental health issue, may be prohibited under applicable human rights legislation. The facts of any particular situation, including such things as job safety would have to be taken into consideration in coming to any determination.
(Copies of the Human Rights Acts for each jurisdiction are available on the Human Rights Commission website.)
Issue: Unable to save or revive a person, and seeing a victim with catastrophic injuries, loss of limb or body part.
Proposed approach: Speak regularly about the effect this type of call can have on the mental health of workers and what it takes to become well again. Provide appropriate trauma counseling and allow personnel adequate time to recover.
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