I am the family member to many first responders and a psychologist that studies the impacts the career has on them. From personal experience, I know that everything that happens at work has a direct impact on us at home, and everything that happens at home directly impacts my husband at work.
I feel competent in understanding the potential impacts of the career on my husband, signs and symptoms that might mean he could use some extra support before they get worse, and I have a clear picture how to help him get that support and keep our family resilient and connected. Unfortunately, I don't think many first responder family members have the same knowledge that I do and the same abilities to keep their families thriving throughout the career. I hope to change that!
My hope is to help departments utilize spouses as a first line of defense for line of duty deaths and mental health issues that otherwise have an impact on police officers and firefighters. We know that cardiovascular events, suicides, depression, substance abuse, and PTSD can be more lethal to our first responders than on the duty incidents. One of the most important things a first responder can do for themself is to prioritize long term health and wellness. Long term health and wellness is a lifestyle choice. This means families will play a larger role in prevention than departments. However, spouses often go uneducated on when to utilize such services in order to help prevent greater risk, what types of risks the job poses to health and wellness, and how to support their first responder and family. I know this because I am a spouse and have the above mentioned information based on my profession and education and not from my role as a spouse. I’d like to help departments everywhere change that.
If you’re part of a fire department that is interested in improving the overall health and wellness program for your new recruits, I’d like to invite you to consider recommending or offering my book to new spouses and family members.
I would be honored to tailor a talk to your department for the spouses of your employees. Please reach out today to discuss further.