How can friends and family help?

The unique challenges of working in the emergency services can make some people feel isolated or different from friends and family outside of work. This can make them more reluctant to share their thoughts or feelings with you.

Most of the people in your life outside of work have never seen or been involved in a traumatic event, so this can lead to you feeling alone, different, or isolated from family and friends.

…[M]y wife and immediate family, as well as friends, were used to my not being able to discuss much about my day-to-day work… Also, having been a soldier for many years I wanted to remain the strong, silent type! Police officer, police service

However, our research shows that two-thirds of emergency services personnel were most likely to seek help from family and friends, so your support can be really valuable.

Several years later I had another episode of PTSD… During this episode, friends and family became aware of my problem. At first I was incredibly embarrassed and ashamed. However, everyone was totally supportive and understanding and have been to this day, for which I am very thankful. Paramedic, ambulance service

Here are some ways you can support someone with PTSD. You might also find our booklets on supporting someone’s mental wellbeing useful – these booklets were made especially for friends and family of blue light staff and volunteers. 

Don’t forget to look after your own mental health – a traumatic event can have a major impact on friends and family.

Friends and family of blue light staff and volunteers can be particularly at risk of developing secondary trauma. If you’re experiencing symptoms of PTSD yourself while supporting someone through a trauma, it might help to try some of the tips on our self-care for PTSD page.

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