Mental health

NomadicMedic

EMS Edumacator
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I guess I just need to vent for a moment.

I'm so sick of the stigma that accompanies any discussion of mental health in EMS.

it's an embarrassment to our profession that when I try to have an honest discussion about a provider that I'm worried about I'm told "they'll get over it" and I shouldn't worry so much.
 

VentMonkey

Ajaw
Premium Member
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I’m here, brother. Old guard meets new guard- the old ways of denial rubbing up against (at times) a hypersensitive culture creates friction from what I’ve seen.

Is it a real thing? Yes. We all fold from time to time, especially the longer we’re in and around what can be an intoxicating, and/ or toxic culture.

Finding comfort in those like you is oftentimes all one needs. But one also needs to admit that there is in fact an issue at hand themselves.

I thank God every day for my family, and feel for those who know not what a gift and blessing one’s family carries. And, admittedly can find some of these co-workers to be my polar opposites.

Good, dependable friends are also like family- I can count them on one hand.

Guess ultimately we’re all just works in progress...
 

mgr22

Forum Deputy Chief
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I guess I just need to vent for a moment.

I'm so sick of the stigma that accompanies any discussion of mental health in EMS.

it's an embarrassment to our profession that when I try to have an honest discussion about a provider that I'm worried about I'm told "they'll get over it" and I shouldn't worry so much.
Keep doing what you're doing. You only have to be right once to make it all worthwhile.
 

RocketMedic

Earl of the Wheeled Chair
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I feel like I’m having sort of an episode of melancholy. It’s pretty much all due to having my professional identity and ego kicked in the face repeatedly and being treated like garbage by an employer. 10/10 not having a great employment experience.
 

mgr22

Forum Deputy Chief
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I feel like I’m having sort of an episode of melancholy. It’s pretty much all due to having my professional identity and ego kicked in the face repeatedly and being treated like garbage by an employer. 10/10 not having a great employment experience.
How long have you been working there?
 

Remi

Forum Deputy Chief
Premium Member
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I feel like I’m having sort of an episode of melancholy. It’s pretty much all due to having my professional identity and ego kicked in the face repeatedly and being treated like garbage by an employer. 10/10 not having a great employment experience.
It’s very hard to be happy when you rely on your employment to provide that to you.
 

StCEMT

Forum Deputy Chief
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I've got my gripes about where I work, but this isn't one. We've got the standard CISM stuff, peer support, and just some damn good people I know I could call whenever. My shift has got a lot less turnover, so its a pretty tight group of people who are usually good about following up with each other if we know some bad **** went on.
 

mgr22

Forum Deputy Chief
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Six terrible long months
How does this job compare to others you've had? Were there any that seemed bad at first but got better?

Is there anything you think might improve about the job if you gave it another six months? Can you think of any aspects of job dissatisfaction that you could address without your employer being involved?
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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In all honesty, I blame the previous generation of EMS providers, the ones who many of us looked up to, and took our cues from. The attitude of "I'll get over it" or "suck it up" were very prevalent, and any mental trauma or disability was considered a sign of weakness. And that doesn't the prevalence of alcohol use both during and after work (although that might just be a North East thing).

The times are changing, but a lot of the old guard are still around, and have awesome war stories. And to the younger generation, they want to be just like them, especially when they are new, which continues the cycle of both good and bad stuff.

For the record, it's not just EMS; its much of healthcare, public safety, and the military that share this way of thinking. Even the TV show MASH had an episode that centered on this theme (Season 6, episode 132 "Images") portrayed it in the 70s.

With the push for increased awareness, and a change in attitude from both the top and bottom, I hope it changes, but there are still a lot of old school people and old school mentalities that are holding us back from moving forward. But I don't think it will be as quick of a cultural change as many of us would like to see

https://codegreencampaign.org/
 

mgr22

Forum Deputy Chief
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I agree that there are lots of antiquated opinions about depression, PTSD, and other aspects of mental health. I also think there is some enabling going on -- i.e., encouragement, primarily through social media, to see oneself as damaged by stress. Like so many other things in life, balance is needed between two extremes. In time, some will learn to cope. Meanwhile, I'm in favor of offering support to anyone who feels they need it.
 

Seirende

Forum Captain
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It's not just EMS that has trouble dealing with mentally ill people. It's a society wide problem.
 

mgr22

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It's not just EMS that has trouble dealing with mentally ill people. It's a society wide problem.
True, but I think many of the EMS folks who believe they are sick or are presumed to be sick are just trying to figure out how to cope with moderate stress, and would be able to do so with minimal coaching. As I said above, though, I wouldn't deny support to anyone who feels he/she needs it. Of the two types of mistakes we could make -- treating a well person or not treating a sick one -- I'd rather make the former.
 

Seirende

Forum Captain
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True, but I think many of the EMS folks who believe they are sick or are presumed to be sick are just trying to figure out how to cope with moderate stress, and would be able to do so with minimal coaching. As I said above, though, I wouldn't deny support to anyone who feels he/she needs it. Of the two types of mistakes we could make -- treating a well person or not treating a sick one -- I'd rather make the former.
Mental illness seems to have become almost a trendy thing, at least the less stigmatized ones like anxiety and depression, so I think people self diagnose often. I definitely think that people should get screened for these more common mental illnesses regularly, especially since they are easier to treat if you catch them early.

There are definitely a lot of misconceptions about mental illness out there too, even among health care professionals.
 

Remi

Forum Deputy Chief
Premium Member
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In all honesty, I blame the previous generation of EMS providers, the ones who many of us looked up to, and took our cues from. The attitude of "I'll get over it" or "suck it up" were very prevalent, and any mental trauma or disability was considered a sign of weakness.
This is true but has very little to do with EMS specifically……that's how previous generations were about everything. It certainly is how I grew up and learned to act, long before I got into EMS.


I also think there is some enabling going on -- i.e., encouragement, primarily through social media, to see oneself as damaged by stress. Like so many other things in life, balance is needed between two extremes. In time, some will learn to cope. Meanwhile, I'm in favor of offering support to anyone who feels they need it.
Absolutely. While there are still lots of us who tend towards the "suck it up, you'll be OK" approach (and I admit I'm guilty of that to some degree), it has become extremely fashionable to be a victim, which seems to have caused the proverbial pendulum to swing to far in the other direction. I doubt you can go anywhere in public and swing a dead cat without hitting someone with a diagnosis of PTSD, and I guarantee you can't go anywhere and swing a dead cat without hitting someone (probably several) with a diagnosis of anxiety and depression and the scripts to match.

My suspicion is that we over-diagnose and over-medicate many people who really do just need to learn to suck it up (sorry, couldn't resist - what I really mean is "learn coping skills"), yet it's also clear that we don't adequately recognize and treat those who actually need help the most.
 

KingCountyMedic

Forum Lieutenant
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This is something we are really trying to tackle up in my neck of the woods. I've been in over 30 years and it's always been the "suck it up" or "keep it down with a bottle of brown" mentality in our service. Thankfully it's finally changing and we are addressing it. PTS is a recognized OJI now and we are covered for it. We have all kinds of great PEER support in use now and it's really helping. Sadly not in time for many people I started out with. In the last 10 years I have lost 4 friends to suicide. These were amazing First Responders and I miss them every day. It's going to take the grizzled vets to stand up and lead the way for change I think. We have to do away with the stigma when someone has a bad call that affects them. Here's a link to our PEER Support that we are using all over are area. Go in and look around and share it with your employers.



 
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FiremanMike

EMS Coordinator
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In all honesty, I blame the previous generation of EMS providers, the ones who many of us looked up to, and took our cues from. The attitude of "I'll get over it" or "suck it up" were very prevalent, and any mental trauma or disability was considered a sign of weakness. And that doesn't the prevalence of alcohol use both during and after work (although that might just be a North East thing).
Sadly many of them are still around and have worked themselves into management positions. I know chief officers who don't believe in CISD or mental health stand-downs..
 

mgr22

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Sadly many of them are still around and have worked themselves into management positions. I know chief officers who don't believe in CISD or mental health stand-downs..
Just to echo what Remi said, most of us from the "John Wayne generation" (WWII, early boomers) -- especially males -- were taught to endure stress and misfortune while hiding our feelings. Consequently, there was little regard for counselling, debriefing, or almost any other outpatient interventions to preserve mental health. That's not an excuse for people my age to belittle anyone in distress, but it might help those of you much younger to understand why some senior EMS providers feel less urgency than you do about addressing PTSD. Remember, we didn't even know what PTSD is.
 

DrParasite

The fire extinguisher is not just for show
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Remember, we didn't even know what PTSD is.
Not true. Don't believe me? lets consult an expert:
What you might be alluding to was the fact that PTSD wasn't recognized outside of the military world, which is likely a fair statement, but to say we didn't know what PTSD was back then is far from a true statement. If anything, previous generations were naive to think that PTSD should only be applied to the military world, and not the civilian one.

I think Bringing Out the Dead is still one of my favorite EMS movies, particularly because it shows what EMS providers were like in the 90s in NYC (and in the regions surrounding it). It shows a lot of the mental health issues that occurred among the EMS providers, and how those signs were ignored by supervisors and managers.

At least now we are recognizing it for the problem and working on intervening, instead of telling our people to endure it and just suppress their feelings.
 

mgr22

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Not true. Don't believe me? lets consult an expert:
What you might be alluding to was the fact that PTSD wasn't recognized outside of the military world, which is likely a fair statement, but to say we didn't know what PTSD was back then is far from a true statement. If anything, previous generations were naive to think that PTSD should only be applied to the military world, and not the civilian one.

I think Bringing Out the Dead is still one of my favorite EMS movies, particularly because it shows what EMS providers were like in the 90s in NYC (and in the regions surrounding it). It shows a lot of the mental health issues that occurred among the EMS providers, and how those signs were ignored by supervisors and managers.

At least now we are recognizing it for the problem and working on intervening, instead of telling our people to endure it and just suppress their feelings.
I hesitate to label George Carlin as an expert on mental health trends, but let's say he is. Did you watch the video? He identifies PTSD as a Vietnam-era diagnosis. I'm talking about growing up 10-20 years before that. And, as you said, "Bringing Out the Dead" is from the '90s, which is 30-40 years after I was a kid.

So I'm wondering on what basis you're disagreeing about how things were for me and most of my peers in the '50s and early '60s.
 
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