As the trauma field evolves, it is becoming clear that certain professions predispose people to higher rates of trauma than do others. First responders, law enforcement, and Veterans encounter many traumatic situations that most people don’t. While exposure to traumatic events can, in and of themselves, lead to trauma-related difficulties such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), repetitive exposure to chaotic and/or dangerous situations can also take a toll on one’s mental health. The cumulative stress associated with this chronic exposure can lead to symptoms of depression, anger, sleep difficulties, anxiety and relationship difficulties.
Having worked as a psychologist in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for 14 years, I have come to appreciate some the stresses faced by first responders and law enforcement, as well as the workplace culture associated with this work. The acknowledgment of stress or difficulty is often not encouraged. I work with first responders, law enforcement, and Veterans to help mitigate some of the expected consequences of working in these difficult fields.