In this Beyond the 1st Response episode, Christy and Ciara discuss First Responder Suicide Awareness Week and the First Responder children. Grab the meatball and start rolling. #Honorthem
We talk about First Responder Awareness often, not only to help break the stigma of mental health in the first responder world but also to teach tools that can help the survivors of suicide. Suicide is uncomfortable; anyway, you put it. Some people will talk about it, and some will react like it is a dirty little secret. What about these kids? This group of first responders, yes, I said first responders, as they serve with you and continue serving after suicide. It may sound uncomfortable when we say they serve with you on the invisible line at the home front, at school, when they walk down the street. They are either always looking over their shoulder or playing with fire, with reckless behavior. This behavior may sound familiar. You may know a first responder who will take the risk of entering the building without their vest or not caring if they have the oxygen mask secured. Our first responder kids are doing the same thing; we don’t recognize it as a struggle. We spend so much time not feeling or seeing what is in our four walls that we miss their cry for help.
We understand that it’s time to stop making excuses and start changing the conversation on mental health among our first responders. So when will we stop making excuses that the children are just teenagers acting out, or they will grow out of it? That time is now before they make a decision that will forever change their life. Have that conversation with them, letting them know it’s okay to struggle with feelings because we made feelings uncomfortable for their entire life. Learn to be uncomfortable in your feelings; they learn from the best, their parent. Kids are brilliant at feeling the energy in the room, but we are brilliant at ignoring it. Teach accountability through actions and support, not through it. It’s easier not to pretend like it isn’t happening. Suck up the emotions, feel them, taste them, hear them, and learn from them. Feelings are like meatballs: they get messy, they roll away, they want to run, or when you eat them, they stick to your ribs. Life with children can get saucy, and it rolls away from you quickly, so you can either get up and get the meatball or miss it as it rolls by.
Mental Health Resources for Kids
Start planning for your child’s mental health needs before you need the resources. Learn from them and practice with them. Teach them that vulnerability is a strength. Some schools offer a program that helps you find a counselor. Care Solace works with the school systems to help take the stress of what counselor works best off your shoulders. Take your kids for an internet surf and check out mental health tools like Project Semi-Colon. Find your local NAMI organization.
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