According to a recent article in Psychology Today, it takes a lot to effectively care for a first responder suffering from traumatic stress or PTSD. Specifically, it takes “a multidisciplinary team of peers, chaplains and culturally competent clinicians.”
If you are a police officer, firefighter, EMT or other first responder, you may think you’re the only one dealing with traumatic stress symptoms. You’re absolutely not. For one thing, many first responders were traumatized as children. Growing up fast and learning to respond to emergencies serves as a powerful background for first responders.
For another, the work you do is traumatizing. You see some of the worst things it is possible to see. You deal with some of the most psychologically challenging conditions.
You have great courage. You’re showing up for this, day after day, putting your own concerns aside to care for others. That’s more than courage.
If you’re suffering from traumatic stress, just showing up is a struggle. It’s important to know that worker’s compensation could cover your treatment, along with 2/3 of any wages you lose when you can’t work.
In Illinois, workers’ comp covers any medical condition that is caused by work or exacerbated by work. That includes, in many cases, work-related mental health concerns. If your traumatic stress was caused by your work, it may have been the result of a single incident or the cumulative effect of the conditions you work under.
4 things traumatized first responders may need
It can take significant treatment to overcome traumatic stress. One of the things you may need is a clear mission – to save your life, not your job. Commit to the treatment you need even if it doesn’t make it immediately easier to work.
Another thing first responders can benefit from, according to the Psychology Today article, is peer support. Isolation is common among people dealing with trauma, especially if you’re convinced no one can understand what you’re going through. Bonding with others with similar experiences can be healing.
You might also benefit from finding a therapist counselor who has previous experience treating first responders. This type of cultural competence can help you build trust.
Trust is crucial. Even though your treatment may be covered by workers’ comp, you need to know that your boss won’t be getting reports on what you say in therapy. Rest assured, treatment with a licensed therapist is completely confidential even when it’s paid for by workers’ compensation.
Get started on your claim
Getting workers’ comp coverage for workplace trauma begins with making the claim. If you worry that your claim will be turned down, an attorney can help assess your situation and answer your questions.