The month of June is PTSD Awareness Month. Every month should be. We must all work together to create an environment to change the culture that asking for help shows weakness. PTSD comes when we harbor unprocessed difficult events in our lives. Times where we experienced a mental trauma that could have been caused by so many different situations. It’s not about just the “bad calls”. It can be caused by difficulties in our lives that put us in a place where we are stuck. We have the resources to help you get unstuck.
I spent my entire career working in a ”suck it up” culture where you were criticized, frowned upon, even made fun of, if you couldn’t “handle It”. Nothing ever has, or ever will, be helped with that attitude. I personally know the damage it can cause, and we join many other folks in our state to see that is does not happen to you.
We now have well-trained peer teams, professional clinicians, treatment facilities, and other resources that can get you through the darkness. If you are hurting or troubled, please give us an opportunity to help you. We have many options in our state. Our Lowcountry Firefighter/EMS/911 Support Teams, Support One, the SC Department of Mental Health’s First Responder Support Team and Mobile Crisis Units, the SC Law Enforcement Assistance Program, the SC First Responders Assistance and Support Team, the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, the SC Public Safety Chaplains Association, and many other local and regional teams that will provide responsive services to you and your families. The majority of this has been developed in the last decade and we are on course, together, to continue to improve services for all our emergency services personnel and their families. We can’t do it alone, nor should we try. Support what we do, seek our services and encourage others to do the same. Our programs are built on the foundation of all our first responders taking care of each other, watching for those in your midst that are troubled, encouraging them, and just being there to lend an ear.
Consider this, the suicide rate among emergency services personnel is high with us losing more to suicide than in the line of duty each year. Yes, we can intervene when someone is about to make a bad choice and we will. But we must continue to build a program of education, awareness, and self-care to help those who are having difficulties before taking their lives becomes their option. Then, and only then, we will be able to change the statistics. Please help us, help yourselves, and help those around you.