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First Responders – Self Care and Mental Wellbeing

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Home Forums Self-care and mental wellbeing for First Responders First Responders – Self Care and Mental Wellbeing

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  • #13408

    Welcome to a place for first responders and their loved ones to discuss self-care and mental wellbeing.

    This is a welcoming space for police, nursing and emergency service personnel who may be experiencing work-related stress, anxiety, trauma, grief and loss.

    This forum is a space to freely share your feelings and experiences, discuss how they have affected your life, and share coping strategies that have helped.

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  • #13535

    When you are on the frontline, looking after yourself is the last thing you often find time to do. I know that creating a few minutes a day to check in on how you are going, what have you got on today or have you eaten yet or simple starting points. This is a great look about stress management by an ER doctor who reframes ‘crazy busy’ to ‘ready busy,’ love to hear what you think about this?


    Hi @Sarah, thanks for your self-care tips & link to Darria Long’s TED talk about managing stress.

    This week Victorian Paramedics were placed in a highly stressful situation when a Code Red was declared due to overwhelming calls, forcing them to tackle massive workloads, miss meals and end up in tears.  It’s just one example of the extreme situations all first responders can face, and it can put us at risk for poor mental health outcomes. Fortunately, there are tools which can help.

    The ‘5 Resiliency Skills’ were developed for First Responders.  Skilling up in these areas can lessen compassion fatigue & anxiety and increase your job satisfaction & quality of life:

    1) Self-care and revitalisation
    2) Self-awareness
    3) Eradicating stress
    4) Improved perceptions of self and job
    5) Connection and support

    (Gentry, Baranowsky & Dunning, 2002)

    Here are a few tips for skilling up;
    #2 Self-awareness – try @Sarah’s tip to ‘check-in on yourself’
    #3 Eradicating Stress – try Darria Long’s stress management techniques
    #5 Connection and support – stay engaged on the online forums and reach out to colleagues

    What are some other tips from community members to develop these skills?

    Friendly Responder

    I think I can safely say that most first responders have a lot invested in their role. For many, their career as someone who saves lives, property, or upholds the law is an integral part of their sense of worth, purpose in life, and even a part of their identity; I know it was for me and it certainly still is the case for my partner. That is why self-care is essential; ensuring you are healthy and safe to fulfil your role is a vital part of professional practice and well-being.

    After suffering from vicarious trauma as an ED nurse, I had to leave the profession. Now, I am in a front-line role again, and this time I want to make dead-certain that I don’t go through the same issues that I faced in my nursing career.

    Every month, I complete a compassion/burnout/secondary trauma self-survey to track how I am going. No one makes me do this, it is just something that I am proactive about. Whilst our employers do put measures in place to protect our mental health, I personally don’t feel it is enough. It is for that reason that I take control of my own well-being and regularly check how I am travelling.

    The screening tool is called the “PROQOL: Professional quality of life screening” tool and you can download it for free at this link:

    Being a trauma survivor, I have found that I can’t always rely on or trust others to make sure I am ok. This is why I take responsibility for my health and well-being, and because I want to make sure that I can continue doing the job I love so much, as well as keeping myself mentally and physically well for my self, my family, and my friends. After I left nursing, I felt so low and depressed because nursing meant so much to me. I also felt let down by the system, all of which contributed to my PTSD symptoms. Taking a proactive stance helps me to feel that I at least have a little more control over my experiences!

    If anyone else has any tools, I would love to hear about them? Also, I would love to know if you use the PROQOL and if you find it helpful?


    I would love to hear how our first responders manage the stress and trauma on a day to day basis. Do they do regular self checks? how often do they de-brief with someone? What are the signs of getting near burn out? What do they know of compounded trauma?
    Sharing this would be so valuable.

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