Who’s Looking After the Mental Health of our Fire Fighters?

Trauma in the Fire Service 

Horrific and violent accidents and brutalities, gruesome fatalities, and overwhelming responses from onlookers. First on the scene, our fire fighters deal with these traumas everyday.  

A single traumatic event can trigger PTSD. Multiple traumatic events as part of ones career make you extremely prone to suffering this automatic nervous system response.  

60.2% of fire staff and volunteers suffer mental health problems.* Since its 2012 set-up, 2000 people visit the Fire Fighters Charity helpline with an influx of triggered memories recorded for current and retired firefighters after Grenfell tower.  

Substance abuse, depression, social dysfunction, psychosomatic complaints have all been common responses to PTSD noted in the fire service.  

It is encouraging charities and organisations like Fire Magazine and Fire-fighters charity are taking steps to increase awareness and offer support to personnel suffering silently from PTSD. They do not however have the resources to provide a range of powerful mental health therapies.  

And yet, these firefighters suffer in service of Queen and Country.  

What is PTSD? 

When we endure persistent (or even one-off) traumatic events we cannot intellectually process our brain’s frontal lobe shuts down. It’s a physiological reaction affecting executive functioning.  

  • Spotting Symptoms – Different individual responses include: 
  • Hyperarousal Manifested hyperactivity, insomnia, lack of concentration, irritability, anxiety, outbursts and panic. This is when our nervous system is in the fight or flight response state.  
  • Re-Experiencing – recurrent nightmares and flashbacks – reliving physical memories at the smallest (or no trigger). Nausea. Sweating. Exaggerated automatic responses to life experiences or physical stimuli.  
  • Avoidance – New studies in nervous system responses (The Polyvagal Theory) have pointed out a third response to danger (in addition to fight or flight) – Freeze. Primates would instinctively play dead to save themselves. We still do this. This response leads to depression, anxiety, hopelessness and social withdrawal. Low self-esteem, sound sensitivity, headaches, anger, difficulty concentrating, rumination, self-harm and addiction are also common responses seen in those suffering from PTSD. 
What you can do to help 

About seven or eight out of every 100 people (7-8%) will have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives making the understanding of PTSD statistics and facts very important. Considering this significant figure, it is likely that you, or someone you know, will suffer from PTSD at some point.Don’t ask brave folk to man-up. Flag up symptoms seen in family and friends and suggest they get help using neurofeedback, talk therapies or a blend of different therapies to help heal the trauma.  

Neurofeedback for Healing Minds 

In 1990 there was a cohort of Vietnam veterans who had suffered years of recurrent nightmares and flashbacks resorting to drugs and alcohol to cope. A study with a specific form of Neurofeedback therapy – Alpha Theta training was first brought to clinical practice by Eugene Peniston to help them.  

The therapy (then) saw a significantly greater improvement in the mental health issues and a lower relapse rate with substance abuse than with talk therapy alone. Fast forward thirty years, we have a whole arsenal of powerful neurofeedback technologies (non-invasive and drug-free) to train the brain to sub-consciously resolve traumatic memories. Studies show a decline in severity of symptoms of over 50% within 20 sessions of therapy. The habits and fears that trigger uncomfortable feelings and behaviours are negated. We are able to safely process traumatic memories while in a deeply relaxed state. 

What is Neurofeedback Therapy? 

Non-invasive. Drug free. A very comfortable experience.  

A revolution in mental health provision, Neurofeedback (and we at TheBrainCollective) train or re-train your brain using a range of advanced EEG technologies (technically dubbed neuromodulation modalities) to facilitate optimum self-regulation and stability for fantastic mental health.   

Help for All 

We are looking to start a charitable foundation to help soldiers, emergency service professionals, the NHS and Social Care with affordable or free neurofeedback therapy – specifically those who may not be able access this help privately. If you wish to be a part of this journey, please contact us. 

Get Help Now 

We are currently offering neurofeedback therapy in private practice. To learn more, go to Neurofeedback, Your Journey with Us or telephone us to book a free consultation. 

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