FRIDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Repeated exposure to
disturbing events can raise the risk of mental health problems in
police officers and firefighters who are new to the job, a new
There is no such increased risk among those who have been in
their jobs for a longer period of time, however, said the
researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public
Health, in Baltimore. They also found that police, firefighters and
other protective services workers do not have higher rates of
mental health problems than people in other occupations.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data from the U.S.
National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions to
compare rates of mental health problems, such as mood, anxiety and
alcohol use disorders, among different groups of workers. The
findings appear in the February issue of the journal
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.
The most common types of traumatic events reported by protective
services workers included: seeing someone badly injured or killed;
unexpectedly seeing a dead body; having someone close die
unexpectedly; and having someone close experience a serious or
life-threatening illness, accident or injury.
The association between witnessing traumatic events and having
mental health issues was "virtually confined to the group of
early-career protective services workers," study senior author Dr.
Ramin Mojtabai, an associate professor in the department of mental
health, said in a Bloomberg school news release.
"Future research should examine the coping skills of protective
services workers who have been in these jobs for many years, which
might make them less likely to develop psychiatric complications in
the face of various potentially traumatic experiences," Mojtabai
The researchers also said special support programs and services
for newly hired protective services workers can potentially help
prevent mental health problems that might cause them to leave their
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers
resilience resources for emergency-response