When someone talks about mental health resilience, they mean the ability of someone to adapt to difficult situations. First responders are the ones who tend to respond to these difficult situations and help save lives in the process. Such difficult situations can be anything from a natural disaster to pulling someone out of a car wreck.
These can be not only stressful to experience but also traumatic. Such events can cause someone to experience a wide array of emotions, such as grief, anger, pain, and fear. Despite how difficult these situations are to experience, first responders continue to do their duty day after day.
Over time, these experiences and emotions can weigh heavily on a person. Sometimes it’s enough to cause someone to develop a mental health disorder, such as depression or an anxiety disorder. People do not develop these disorders because they are somehow weak or bad people. They develop them because they are how our minds and bodies naturally respond to stress and trauma.
However, there are ways for someone to build up their mental resilience to these traumatic and stressful events. By building your resilience, you keep yourself healthy. To learn how to build your resilience, you must first be educated by professionals in the mental healthcare field.
Building Resilience Through Education
Your journey to building your resilience begins by calling your local mental healthcare facility. Such facilities are not just places for those with mental health disorders. They also offer education, preventative mental healthcare, and support to anyone who needs it when it comes to mental health. These facilities are staffed by mental healthcare professionals, people who dedicate their lives to the study and treatment of mental health. They will be the ones to help you learn how to build up your resilience.
Resilience starts by learning how to care for your mental health. This means learning and practicing healthy coping skills needed to deal with negative emotions and events. For example, it’s not healthy or productive to self-medicate in response to stress. The healthy thing to do is to learn techniques to help reduce the effects of stress on your body.
Someone may learn how to meditate as a way to control stress. That way, in the future, when they experience a stressful event, they respond healthily. They acknowledge that the event happened, understand that stress is natural, and then let go of the stress instead of keeping it inside themselves. There are many skills, techniques, and mindfulness practices a person can learn to help them manage their mental health.
Another essential part of mental health education is learning to recognize the signs of a mental health disorder and knowing when it is time to ask for help. There is already a heavy stigma around first responders and asking for help. Learning how to ask for help and where to look for it is equally as important as learning coping skills.
Make Use of Preventative Mental Healthcare
Another way to build resilience is to practice preventative mental healthcare. Just like how you go to the doctor for a checkup, so too should you go to a mental healthcare professional regularly. This way, problems can be caught early before they become overwhelming. A mental healthcare professional can help you set goals, find resources and support, and give you the encouragement you need to succeed.
It also gives you the safe space you need to just talk. Many times, people keep their feelings bottled up inside them. Over time, these can fester and cause pain. Sometimes, a person doesn’t want to talk about their feelings because they worry about burdening the ones they love. A therapist who practices psychotherapy is specially trained to deal with this very situation. They not only can listen to you but also validate your feelings. Sometimes, just knowing that there is someone who listens and understands you can help during difficult times. A therapist can help you find the strength in yourself and give you the encouragement you need.
Some treatment facilities offer special programs for first responders, such as Command Post Wellness. These offer treatments and education specifically tailored to first responders to help them care for their mental health.
Resilience Is Not Stoicism
To be resilient does not mean ignoring your feelings and experiences. You cannot bottle up or ignore your feelings, as that is not healthy. Doing so can cause pain and stress,and can sometimes result in the development of a mental health disorder. This is a common misconception that being resilient means being emotionless, which is far from the truth.
Resilience simply means that you know what to do to keep yourself healthy. You are already strong; you just need to know what tools you have to work with. To be resilient is to acknowledge your feelings, understand why you are feeling them, and then let them go. It’s normal and natural to respond negatively to trauma and stress or even be injured by it. This is simply being human. What matters is what you choose to do next. Do you respond in a healthy or unhealthy way? This choice matters more than you think. Choosing to use healthy coping methods keeps a first responder on the field and continuing to save lives.
Remember that everyone deserves compassionate and quality care for their mental health. Just because you are a first responder doesn’t mean that you need to struggle alone. Nobody deserves that, especially those that sacrifice so much for the good of others. It’s time to let yourself be helped for once. If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health disorder, needs help learning how to build resilience, or just needs a caring ear to listen, call your local mental healthcare facility today. You wouldn’t wait to save a life, don’t wait on yours.
A first responder relies on their mind as much as their body when saving lives. To help protect their mental health, a first responder must first learn how to increase their mental health resilience. To do so, they must learn how to cope with stress and trauma in a healthy, productive way. Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, offers a specialized program for first responders called Command Post Wellness. Not only can this program help first responders recover from a mental health disorder, but it can also give them the education they need to learn how to keep their minds healthy. To learn more about how Command Post Wellness can help you, call (949) 647-4090.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.