COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — First responders want to end the stigma of mental health to provide help and support among colleagues in need.
The two-day Mental Health Conference in Newark teaches firefighters, police officers and hospital workers how they can help their fellow brothers and sisters according to officials.
And First Responders say dealing with the extreme stresses that come with saving lives daily, but it’s the part of the job first responders didn’t sign up for.
Heith Good, peer support trainer and a firefighter with Norwich Township Firefighter says the stress is hard to leave at work.
“When we take off the badge, when we take off the shirt, or when we take off the gun-belt, we’re normal people and we get put into abnormal situations and it’s affecting us,” said Good.
Conference officials say they address first responders’ mental health issues as positive effects.
Several firefighters, police officers, dispatchers, and even hospital workers around Ohio came to learn how they can better help each other deal with the stress of their jobs.
“It’s not so much a stigma, and we’re finally bringing it to the forefront to take care of our own,” said firefighter Keisha Amspaugh.
Amspaugh watched the landscape of first responders dealing with mental health evolve over her 14 years of being a firefighter and paramedic.
“Before it was kind of you to keep it to yourself and you deal with it in your own way, but now is it ok to talk about it,” said Amspaugh.
Something she’s learning here at the conference through the peer support training which helps first responders identify when their work brothers and sisters are dealing with a possible crisis related to work.
“The people that know you and the people that are around you they know what’s going to trigger you, and I know what’s going to trigger them,” said Amspaugh. “So, it is easy to look at them and say hey I know that might have bothered you are you ok?”
Asking that simple question can go a long way according to first responders at the conference. They said it’s about doing for them what you would do for your family.
“It’s affecting our lives, it’s affecting our marriages, it’s affecting our families, and we just want to be more intentional, and help people and be that bridge to professional services,” said Good. “There’s a lot of work to be done. The works never done, and we’re tackling it day by day.”