Why you need to Stay Mentally Healthy
In this guide on how to stay mentally healthy, it’s important to recognise that working in EMS is a stressful and often traumatic experience.
Many people people in EMS struggle with their mental health, and especially struggle with the ability to stay mentally healthy.
What a lot of people fail to realise is that mental health is ongoing and requires maintenance and care. It’s not just something to start worrying about when you experience an issue with it.
Think of your mental health as being similar to a car. You need to regularly check your tires, oil, water, etc. and ensure it’s in good operating condition. You clean and wash it often and take it to be serviced by a qualified mechanic so that issues can be identified and solved quickly and before they become catastrophic.
Our mental health is very similar to caring for a car. We need to regularly check in on our mood, motivation and satisfaction in life and ensure our brain is in a good operating condition. We should do things to relax and take care of ourselves regularly, and see a counsellor/psychologist to identify and work through any issues before they become overwhelming.
This list contains 10 ideas on how to stay mentally healthy, and is designed to be a proactive, preventative strategy for looking after your mental health.
Remember, if you need to speak to someone about your mental health, visit our need help page for a list of resources in your country,
Psychologists have known for a while now that exercise is highly effective in improving your mental health.
Read our article on how you can incorporate exercise into your shifts.
Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can make a noticeable difference in your mental and physical health. Read more.
(Disclaimer: ensure you check with your doctor before starting any new vigorous exercise)
Nutrition is an important aspect of your health, both physically and mentally. We’re not saying that eating an extra carrot will cure Depression or PTSD – but healthy eating and watching what you eat can contribute to better overall health and well-being.
Join a Group or Club
Joining a group, club or organisation can help give you a sense of belonging, and also improved confidence and self-esteem.
Remember not to over-do it or make commitments that aren’t sustainable.
Take a Break
Designating time to spend relaxing and unwinding is important for your mental health and can help to prevent burnout. Whether it’s a couple of days off, or a couple of weeks off, be sure to spend this time relaxing.
CISM & CISD
Debriefing after a critical incident is vitally important to process your thoughts and emotions early. While CISM can be undertaken in a group setting, you can also choose to receive support one on one.
Sometimes, when we’re struggling, we get into the habit of isolating ourselves from our friends, family and colleagues. Taking steps to remain connected, even though you may not feel like it, can be helpful.
Be adventurous and learn a new skill, language or even a musical instrument. Whatever you choose, give yourself a challenge and keep your brain active. Maybe if you’re an EMT, you can look at taking a Paramedic class, or as a paramedic you could study to become certified as a Flight Paramedic. Achieving goals like these will give your confidence a boost, and a sense of achievement.
Taking time for the things you enjoy in life can help improve your mood. Whether this is a hobby or spending time with the people you love it will still have a huge benefit on your mental health.
Start or Join a Support Network
Informal support networks/groups can come together to help each other out when struggling. You and your colleagues can form a group to meet on a semi-regular basis outside of work. Rather than a formal group therapy session, maybe grab a coffee or even fire up the grill and de-stress from work.