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After Mike Washington, a seasoned firefighter with the Seattle Fire Department, received news that his son had been killed in action in Afghanistan, he fell quickly into a downward spiral of drinking, depression, and suicidal thoughts. His friends urged him to get help, and, thankfully, he listened. The experience led him to thinking about the stress first responders are under and how he might help others like him to stay healthy.
“If you are […] a first responder of any kind,” Mike says, “you will see things that you can’t unsee. We ignore it. But they’re ticking time bombs.” Mike explains that no one had never taught him to deal with the daily stress of his job, and so, eventually, the stress and grief all became too much. That’s why he has now dedicated himself to training new first responders in mental health and stress management. By preparing new firefighters for the stress and trauma they will have to deal with, Mike hopes to prevent others from suffering as he did.
Firefighters are the ones we call when we need help, and so it’s easy to forget the difficulties they face in order to do their job for us. But thankfully Mike is taking the initiative to teach his colleagues how to deal with their mental health before they reach crisis.
You can find out more about Mike’s program from the video below.
How to use stress to improve your health