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Dangers: Anxiety

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

Anxiety

Anxiety can be experienced by PSP families for many reasons due to dangers which are part of the job. There is often the fear of injury or death associated with these dangers. Media reports of serious incidents and fatalities can increase feelings of anxiety for both adults and children. PSP are at higher risk of both psychological and physical injuries than the general public. This increased risk of injury and the harmful effects of events and situations create stress for both PSP and their families. This anxiety, stress, and tension can spill over into family life due to uncertainty about the PSP’s safety on the job. Physical injuries can have short- and long-term impacts on families. Families also worry about exposure to trauma which can affect mental health and family relationships. Worry is natural and unavoidable for most families. Families can support the wellbeing of family members by being aware of the effects and managing them in healthy ways.

What “fuels” worry and fear?

Please attempt this activity first, then read about the topic.

 

While many situations can “fuel” worry, everyone is unique. We all experience worry differently. PSP families have identified key factors that can shape anxiety.

The effects of anxiety on children

  • Children’s awareness of the risks and dangers of the PSP parent’s job varies. Studies have shown some children have heightened awareness and others express little concern.
  • Children can experience anxiety, stress, and anger due to concerns about a PSP parent’s safety. They are impacted by TV news and reports on social media. Representations of PSP on TV or in movies can also increase children’s fears related to the risk of injury or death for PSP.
  • Children may have difficulty expressing their worries and fears which can impact mental health. Too little information about the PSP job can make children more reliant on TV and social media. Too much information or information that is not age appropriate can also be problematic. Open communication is important to help children process information and express how they are feeling.

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References for this page (click to expand)

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Bochantin, J. E. (2017). Ambulance thieves, clowns, and naked grandfathers: How pses and their families use humorous communication as a sensemaking device. Management Communication Quarterly, 31(2), 278-296. https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318916687650  

Cox, M., Norris, D., Cramm, H., Richmond, R., & Anderson, G. S. (2022). Public safety personnel family resilience: A narrative review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(9), 5224. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095224  

Helfers, R. C., Reynolds, P. D., & Scott, D. M. (2021). Being a blue blood: A phenomenological study on the lived experiences of police officers’ children. Police Quarterly, 24(2), 233-261. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098611120964954  

Hoven, C. W., Duarte, C. S., Wu, P., Doan, T., Singh, N., Mandell, D. J., Bin, F., Teichman, Y., Teichman, M., Wicks, J., Musa, G., & Cohen, P. (2009). Parental exposure to mass violence and child mental health: The first responder and WTC evacuee study. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 12(2), 95-112. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-009-0047-2  

Landers, A. L., Dimitropoulos, G., Mendenhall, T. J., Kennedy, A., & Zemanek, L. (2020). Backing the blue: Trauma in law enforcement spouses and couples. Family Relations, 69(2), 308-319. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12393  

Ricciardelli, R., Carleton, R. N., Groll, D., & Cramm, H. (2018). Qualitatively unpacking canadian public safety personnel experiences of trauma and their well-being. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 60(4), 566-577. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjccj.2017-0053.r2  

Roth, S. G., & Moore, C. D. (2009). Work-family fit: The impact of emergency medical services work on the family system. Prehospital Emergency Care, 13(4), 462-468. https://doi.org/10.1080/10903120903144791  

Sommerfeld, A., Wagner, S. L., Harder, H. G., & Schmidt, G. (2017). Behavioral health and firefighters: An intervention and interviews with Canadian firefighters. Journal of Loss & Trauma, 22(4), 307-324. https://doi.org/10.1080/15325024.2017.1284515 


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