Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall health, and it is especially important for veterans and first responders who are subjected to high levels of stress and trauma on a regular basis. Recent statistics show that these groups face higher rates of mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. However, it’s not all bad news! There are many ways that veterans and first responders can improve their mental health and cope with stress. Read on to learn about statistics and methods that the veterans and first responders in your life can use to improve and maintain mental health. 

The State

  • According to the CDC, studies have found that between 17% and 24% of public safety telecommunicators have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 24% have symptoms of depression.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) annually compiles the list of jobs with highest suicide rates. Police officers rank third on that list. 

Hope on the Horizon

Providing options to support veterans and first responders cope with stress and improve their mental health is critical to battling these statistics. At Heroes on the Water, we provide kayaking and fishing excursions because our participants experience a combination of tranquility and community bonding that can improve mental and physical health and lead to overall healing.  

There are many different ways to improve mental health. Here are five options for veterans and first responders to consider: 

  • Consider alternative therapies:
    Alternative therapies such as exercise, meditation, yoga, and art therapy can be helpful for veterans and first responders as they work to manage stress and improve mental health. These therapies can provide a sense of relaxation and help individuals better cope with the demands of their work. Incorporating movement into your daily schedule can give your brain the chemical boost it needs to cope with stress. 

  • Join a supportive community:
    Joining a supportive community can be a great way for veterans and first responders to connect with others who understand the unique challenges they face. Support groups, organizations or other community groups can provide a safe and supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences, receive encouragement, and learn from others who have gone through similar experiences. 

  • Practice self-care:
    Self-care is an important aspect of mental health and can help individuals cope with stress and prevent burnout. Some self-care practices that may be beneficial for veterans and first responders include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and setting aside time for relaxation and hobbies. 

  • Seek out social support:
    Social support can be an important source of comfort and strength for veterans and first responders. Building and maintaining strong relationships with family, friends, and other trusted individuals can provide a sense of connection and belonging, and can help individuals feel less alone when facing challenges. 

  • Seek professional help:
    Many veterans and first responders may feel hesitant to seek help for mental health issues due to the stigma that still surrounds these issues. However, it is important to remember that seeking help from a mental health professional is a sign of strength, not weakness. Psychologists and therapists can help individuals cope with stress, work through traumatic experiences, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. 

While the statistics on suicide and mental health among veterans and first responders may be alarming, it is important to remember that there are resources available to help these groups cope with stress and improve their mental health. By seeking professional help, joining a supportive community, practicing self-care, seeking out social support, and considering alternative therapies, veterans and first responders can take control of their mental health and build a healthier and more fulfilling future. 

Support the mission of Heroes on the Water to provide wellness and community to our heroes and their families. 

  1. Mike Ahlf February 2, 2023 at 8:23 am - Reply

    I suffer from PTSD and anger management issues. I have received hell through the VA as well as friends and family. I have just recently been diagnosed with other issues that may have caused issues while serving. I thank my friends and family for the help and assistance. The VA has been a big part of dealing with my issues. Bottom line, there is help out there. DO NOT be afraid to ask for help. We (military, first responders, and medical professionals) are all a family that can and needs to look out for each other!

    • Heroes on the Water February 2, 2023 at 11:53 am - Reply

      Thank you Mike for sharing your journey of healing with us!

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