Why do first responders need group support? What is the best type of therapy for male family members who are first responders? Where can I find a first responder support group for men? What are the benefits of peer support for first responders? This article answers all these questions and more.
Hi. My name is Sean Galla. I am a facilitator of support groups and support forums, including a first responder support group for men, with more than ten years of experience. In my line of work, I have seen firsthand how important being part of the first responder support group is to first responders, especially men. First responder support groups for men are a fantastic place for anyone to get the support they need to become better responders and adopt habits and mechanisms that can help them cope with the demanding roles of their jobs.
In this article, you will find all the information you need about first responder support groups and why they are highly recommended for first responders.
Table of Contents:
Who are first responders?
According to Wikipedia, a first responder is a person with specialized training in crisis intervention and health services, usually among the first to arrive and provide emergency service at the scene. First responders typically include law enforcement officers (police officers), dispatchers, paramedics, inpatient clinicians, EMTS and EMS, and fire service personnel.
The job of being a first responder, whether in healthcare, the fire department or the back of an ambulance, comes with a lot of demand to think on your feet to provide public safety in a critical incident.
First responders see the worst traumatic events first and are required to attend to victims of disasters. This line of work comes with a lot of emotional turmoil and mental trauma, which calls for specialized support and care.
This is why first responder support groups exist. These are types of support groups specifically created to offer therapy and support to first responders.
First responders are people who are given the responsibility of giving medical and emotional support while delivering physical care to people who cannot take care of themselves in an emergency.
What is a first responder support group for men?
Being a man is often associated with being stoic, providers and everyone’s hero in the frontline. From a young age, men are taught that their worth is determined by how well they can care for their loved ones and handle difficult situations without showing emotion or requiring help.
Even so, even the toughest individual requires help sometimes.
Men who grow up without a proper support system and go on to become first responders often have a hard time processing the emotional stress and mental trauma that comes with the line of work.
Most male first responders do not know how to ask for help. A good number of them will ignore their need for help. Instead, they quiet their trauma with risky behavior such as alcoholism, substance abuse that causes substance use disorders like addiction, drug use and even risky sexual behavior.
A first responder support group for men is any support group that offers emotional support and practical advice about a challenge, concern or experience common amongst first responders, particularly men. This includes helping members process trauma and emotional issues related to their line of work.
These groups aim to offer support, guide, and educate first responders. These support groups help first responders gain more insight into their line of work and also get the mental health support they need to be able to continue with their jobs.
The type of support offered in peer support groups for first responders includes reflective listening and other forms of emotional support. With peer support, first responders are able to cope, build team cohesion and lower stigma. This is because they come together with people in the same career group who understand the stressors associated with their work, which gives them the best chance to help and support each other.
Why is a first responder support group for men important?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and most mental health professionals and behavioral health experts, occupational stress amongst first responders increases the risk of developing severe mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and PTSD, as well as suicidal behaviors like suicidal ideation and actualization.
A 2018 report showed that firefighters, emergency medical services professionals, and law enforcement officers are the most affected and are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. In 2019, there were 252 reported first responder cases of suicide.
While first responders are highly trained and skilled to work in extreme conditions, even in the midst of rapid changes in circumstances, job training does not completely teach first responders how to handle the stresses and trauma that come with their line of work. Most first responders have to seek external intervention to access post-response trauma and mental health issues.
It is only recently that the mental health needs of first responders started to gain more attention.
A first responder support group for men like MensGroup is created to address a large scope of questions associated with the role of a first responder, the key ones being:
- What happens to first responders who continuously endure the gross impact of their work beyond their psychological and physical capabilities?
- What type of assistance can be offered to first responders regarding mental health issues?
- How prevalent are conditions like depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders as a result of being a first responder
The same way a veteran support group supports vets, a first responder support group for men ensures that male first responders, whether they are law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical teams, have safe spaces they can go to talk about their work and get the support and guidance they need to perform at their best mentally.
Why are male support groups important? learn more here.
Mensgroup is a first responder support group for men
Lack of a support system is one of the major causes of mental illness among first responders.
Mensgroup is an online men’s support group that offers group support, help, and guidance to men, including male first responders for overall wellbeing. It is a supportive network of other men ready and willing to help others like them through shared life experiences.
Some of the benefits of being part of this first responder support group for men include:
It promotes self-care
Like most peer support programs, MensGroup encourages and models healthy habits, including getting adequate sleep, finding hobbies outside of your line of work, taking care of your physical health, taking time off to spend with loved ones, and taking care of your mental health.
You are encouraged to remain resilient
Being a first responder calls for resilience to be able to cope with adversity. A first responder is tasked with jumping in and supporting people experiencing trauma, which can be emotionally and mentally draining. In a support group, you get to experience continuous support to help you cope with the stress of your job.
Here, you do not have to be a hero. You can be vulnerable and talk about the issues affecting you mentally to fellow men. In the MensGroup first responder support group, there is no judgment or limit to the help and support you can get.
Mensgroup advocates for mindfulness. This skill is especially beneficial to first responders who are required to manage critical incident stress on the go. You will learn how to become more mindful in different areas of your life, which helps in stress management. Practicing mindfulness will reduce mental load and stress and improve engagement at work.
Prioritizing mental health
For a long time, mental health was a taboo talk, especially amongst men. and yet, more men are succumbing to mental health issues than women. MensGroup is a mental health advocacy group where men from different professions can come and freely talk about mental health and mental health challenges and issues.
Here, you can get guidance, referrals and recommendations for available mental health resources if you are in need of professional help. Prioritizing your mental health as a male first responder will make you better at your job. It also goes a long way in suicide prevention.
As a male first responder, you will feel more comfortable and better understood when talking to fellow first responders about the stressors in your line of work. In a first responder support group for men, you will meet other subscribers in your line of work who understand the pandemic that is your job, and share similar issues associated with your job.
MensGroup is a leading first responder support group for men that offers guidance and support to male first responders regardless of their ranking, background or position. It is the perfect place to decompress, share, seek support, or just participate in meaningful male banter.