I've written briefly about mental health in general, something about which I feel intensely passionate. I wrote this in conjunction with the other for our class, and I'll include some responses to it as well. This is important, y'all. 


Overall, the issue of mental health is a subject with which the whole of the population should be more informed and less stigmatized. In the EMS professions especially, I found that the general attitude towards diagnostics, therapy, and medication is a bit behind - it is seen as a personal “failure” rather than a fact of life*. 

I studied Emile Durkheim in college, and he is best known for his work with suicide. While his findings are relatively dated, many of them do hold up today. Men tend to commit suicide more often than women, and it seems that the EMS field is still predominantly male. He was one of the first who suggested that suicide can be a product of social factors, not purely by psychology. While he opined that there were three types of suicide, most fall in the grey area between each.

His point that your environment is a direct risk factor is, I believe, the most relevant to EMS. Pushing the idea that it is not a moral failure and that seeking outside treatment and support is a positive instead of shameful will greatly help everyone, but given the experiences and stress levels of the EMS field, especially relevant to us.

*This is not to say that psychological mental health issues are less relevant or less frequent, but again, I think that the stigma of “failure” is more appropriate to discuss here.

I found a short article that cited stress, poor sleep, overuse of the emergency call system and the subsequently strained financial resources, and our tendency to not be open and candid as the biggest risk factors. The author also links to a listicle about the most stressful professions, and firefighting (still EMS) is #2, after active military.

Learning effective coping mechanisms is key here, and note that not everyone will deal in the same manner. If you don’t have the toolkit, you can’t fix it.

Olivia Romero-Reed