First responders such as firefighters and police officers who are new to their jobs may have a much higher risk than their more experienced co-workers of suffering mental disorders from repeated traumatic experiences, like witnessing deaths.
According to research by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, firefighters, police officers and other first responders typically have the same prevalence of mental health problems as other workers. However, those who were new to this line of work and were also exposed to frequent traumatic events, like watching people suffer serious injury or death, were much more likely to develop psychotic disorders down the line. These people were also found to be more likely to abuse alcohol in the future.
The researchers examined the association between exposure to severe trauma and the development of psychiatric disorders including mood disorders, anxiety and substance abuse. They found that novice first responders were at a much higher risk for these disorders.
However, the researchers found no increased risk of such disorders among workers who had been in the profession for a long period of time. This seems to suggest that experienced first responders develop coping skills to deal with traumatic events.
The Atlanta workers’compensation lawyers of Parsons & Associates, P.C., believe that the risk of such trauma could be alleviated by offering training in coping skills for new officers and providing strategies for timely interventions.
Michael Parsons is an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer, representing injured workers in the metro Atlanta region and helping them recover the workers’compensation benefits that they have earned.