NEWPORT BEACH – Dealing with graphic scenes and situations can be traumatic for first responders like paramedics, firefighters and police officers. These are the people Morningside Recovery is trying to reach.
Morningside Recovery, a substance abuse and mental health recovery center operating in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, has created a program for first responders to deal with or thwart trauma and post traumatic stress disorder.
“There’s this environment that they are supposed to be the tough guys that have everything under control but it’s really a difficult job”
First responders who are struggling emotionally or mentally can find it difficult to perform well on the job, Joel Edwards, executive director at Morningside Recovery said. In more serious cases, they may also become detached from family and friends and seek comfort with medication or other substances.
Edwards said Morningside Recovery has worked with first responders coping with trauma in the past and has learned that an exclusive group would better fit their needs.
The program will have individual counseling and group sessions with other first responders. Edwards said the group sessions would help first responders relate to each other.
The program has three areas of counseling: post traumatic stress disorder and trauma; healthy relationships and codependency; and substance abuse and addiction.
“They see all types of things and they see them more frequently but it’s just part of the job. Some people are better at sharing their emotions than others and we want to show them that it’s normal to feel uneasy about what you see and you can talk about it,” Joel Edwards
The program will also teach leisure activities that can be mentally relaxing including yoga, tai chi and art.
Morningside Recovery works with unions and insurance providers to cover the costs of the program. Out-of-pocket costs can be anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. Center representatives also work with employers to arrange leaves of absence for workers if necessary.
Sometimes asking for help is hard, some say.
Mindy Mechanic is a psychology professor at Cal State Fullerton who has studied post traumatic stress disorder for more than 20 years.
She said first responders like police officers and firefighters can feel like getting counseling or therapy can be perceived as weakness.
She believes the Morningside Recovery program can be beneficial and can even educate others about trauma in first responders.
“These people have extremely stressful jobs and others need to realize they help others, but they go through traumatic things too.”
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Article from The Orange Country Register
By Alma Fausto / Staff Writer
Published: March 7, 2014 Updated: March 9, 2014 8:50 a.m.