Meditation and Mindfulness for Emergency Services Workers
Yesterday morning I had one of the most rewarding experiences in my career as a meditation and mindfulness teacher.
I had the honour and privilege of guiding a group of paramedic students in San Francisco through a workshop on how to incorporate these amazing practices into their lives.
When I was preparing for the session, I was expecting to find quite a lot of research and statistics on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for paramedics, but I was quite surprised to discover that that wasn’t the case!
What I did find, were some alarming statistics about the incidences of mental illness within the industry. According to Emergency Services Health Australia, paramedics face higher levels of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and fatigue than other emergency service workers. In Victoria alone, the average annual suicide rate for paramedics is 35.6 per 100,000 workers – more than three and a half times higher than police, firefighters, and other emergency workers.
Thankfully, as part of the Ambulance Response Time Rescue Fund, the Victorian Labor Government provides $2.7 million for initiatives to support paramedic health and wellbeing, including $1 million for the mental health training, however, this unfortunately isn’t the case for many other emergency service workers around the world.
Providing employees with proactive approaches to managing anxiety, depression, stress and PTSD at the beginning of their careers is a no-brainer in my opinion and I really do hope that the tools of meditation and mindfulness become more widely taught within the emergency services industries.