Mental health issues plague the young, with emergency workers at great risk. Is resilience the key?

A woman sits down and closes her eyes

Daunting numbers

Suicide is the leading cause of death, for people aged 20 to 34. More than 75% of mental health issues develop before the age of 25

This is the decade of coming of age and personal evolution.

There are a lot of ‘firsts.’ Finishing studies, moving out of home, getting into a serious relationship, and travelling the world.

This is also true for those in emergency services, but they’re simultaneously thrust into adulthood, very quickly.

Young first responders can feel like they’re missing out, especially if they’re not accustomed to working shifts.

It’s a time where emotional maturity is still developing and they may not have the skills or self-understanding to process their experiences, in a healthy manner. That comes with age.

No amount of training can prepare a young adult for the level of trauma and injustice in the world of first responders.

Mental and emotional disorders become even more likely, for already susceptible workers.

The 20’s is the period most associated with having a mental breakdown.

There’s growing research to show that the brain is still profoundly changing, right up until the early 20s.

It’s also quite suggestable, that the environment has a major impact on the way the brain continues to develop.

Anxiety and depression are very much contingent upon the environment. Police, paramedics, nurses, firefighters and volunteers are continuously exposed to situations that spark mental health problems.

And that’s the problem – it reveals itself just by going to work.

That’s exactly why mental health needs to be an ongoing journey, and it needs to begin as early as possible before habits become biological.

The pace of front-line work is problematic

An emergency service worker in his or her 20’s will see more tragedy than most people in their entire lives.

Beyond the events that unfold in the working day of a first responder, there’s the fast-paced tempo.

This makes it difficult to recover from traumatic events. Up to 69% of workers report stress symptoms and a host of related conditions.

Depression rates are high in emergency service workers and, although we can’t control the what situations arise, power can be gained by developing resilience.

In fact, a cohort of police officers followed after QLD’s Cyclone Katrina displayed how satisfaction with life and practising gratitude helped mitigate symptoms of PTSD.

People who understand your world

Emergency Services Health is the only insurance coverage that exists solely for those in emergency work and their families.

Products are designed specifically for the needs of the industry, which include comprehensive mental health support.

Our Rolling Extras, for example, cover 80% of psychologist and counsellor appointments (subject to waiting periods and other conditions), enabling you to choose who you want to see.

Our health insurance is designed to be used and enjoyed to help improve your overall wellbeing. This isn’t the kind of policy you simply rely on in an emergency.

Your mental health strength needs to be prioritised, much like physical strength.

For the 20-something police officer, paramedic or firefighter, there’s a great opportunity to leverage everything you witness and grow from it.

Transform your thinking into gratitude for everything you do have, because most people don’t experience what you do.

It’s an awakening that tends to happen for many later in life, post-trauma.

First responder work offers a unique sense of comradery.

You have an entire ecosystem of people, advocating for your health and wellbeing. Lean into it, learn from it, and grow through it.

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