There was a PTSD conference in Bakersfield, California Tuesday night. The rotary club and the National Alliance on Mental Health – Front Line sponsored the conference. Like many PTSD conferences, it focused on seeing the warning signs of PTSD and the treatment of PTSD. What made this conference particularly noteworthy, was the call for the attendance of first responders.
Russ Sempell of NAMI Kern County’s Front Line explains their interest in helping first responders who suffer from PTSD.
“The Rotary Clubs of Bakersfield/Kern County are interested in helping first responders which include firemen, EMTs, police officers. They are also our courageous warriors in the community and often don’t address their PTSD.”
Any officer that has experienced a traumatic event while on the job, or exposed to long periods of stress with no relief, should be aware of the symptoms of PTSD. Whether brought on by a single trauma, or long-term abuse from fellow officers, it’s important we pinpoint the causes of PTSD in police. In “The Effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on the Officer and the Family” by Hal Brown, LICSW, he covers the different things that cause PTSD.
“An officer may develop PTSD after experiencing an critical incident, or being exposed over a period of time to stress that he was unable to alleviate.”
The reason this small, regional PTSD conference is worth mentioning, is because it represents a small shift in attitude towards officers who suffer from the heart-breaking disorder. As most police officers know, the paradox surrounding police officers with PTSD, prevents many from seeking and receiving the treatment they need. When officers are shunned, and demoted for showing signs of stress, it forces them to hide their symptoms and expedite their decline in mental health. The more public calls for first responders to know the signs and get treatment, the more likely they are to get the help they need.
So, if you are in any position to hold such a conference in your community, you should. Not only will you undoubtedly learn something, but you’ll spread the message that suffering from PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of, and there are ways you can help. The more police officers who seek help for PTSD, the more likely they are to be able to perform the essential duties of their job at their full potential.